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Narcos director José Padilha claims his production partner is cheating him out of millions in profits from the series.
Padilha is suing showrunner Eric Newman, alleging the veteran producer is concealing revenue — including money from audits of and bonuses from Gaumont Television. Under their profit sharing agreement, they agreed to an equal split of all revenue.
“Despite having voluntarily accepted the trust reposed in him by Plaintiffs, and in violation of this relationship of trust, Newman (both individually and on behalf of Spahn Ranch) caused Narcos Revenues to be paid solely and directly to Defendants, without making Plaintiffs aware that these Narcos Revenues had been received by Defendants,” states the complaint filed on Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Newman, through his production company Spahn Ranch, and Padilha, through his production company Cold Mountain, reports and accounts to each other all proceeds arising from exploitation of Narcos, according to the suit. The language of their contract provides that “each party receives an equal amount of Gross Proceeds at all times.”
But Padilha argues he’s being swindled because the contract is structured in a way that the amount of money paid to Newman by Gaumont isn’t completely transparent. He says Newman has been paid several millions in revenue that haven’t been reported. The suit references an audit of Gaumont by Newman at an unspecified date that wasn’t accounted for in profits paid to Padilha.
“Given that they were partners, Plaintiffs relied on Defendants to be loyal, to not self-deal, to not take any action that would interfere with Plaintiffs’ right to receive their share of any and all revenues, income and proceeds from the exploitation of the Series, and to timely, accurately, and fully account for all revenues, income, and proceeds generated and expenses incurred from the exploitation of the Series,” the complaint states.
Newman and Spahn Ranch have refused to turn over information and documents relating to receipts of Narcos revenue, according to the suit.
Padilha’s lawsuit isn’t the only legal battle over Narcos profits. Veteran TV executive Katie O’Connell Marsh sued Gaumont in 2018 for breach of contract, alleging she hasn’t seen any money from her share of gross receipts from Narcos on top of Gaumont’s other shows, including Hannibal, Hemlock Grove and F Is for Family. A trial is set to start in December.
A source close to production of the show tells The Hollywood Reporter that Padilha is in arbitration with Gaumont, which isn’t named as a defendant in this suit.
A representative for Newman declined to comment. Gaumont didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
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