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Rian Johnson hasn’t finished directing Star Wars: Episode VIII, but he’s already being sued over the film.
Agent Brian Dreyfuss is suing Johnson for breach of implied contract, claiming the director is refusing to pay him his 10 percent commission, according to the complaint filed Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Producer Ram Bergman is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit. Dreyfuss claims Bergman “orchestrated much of Johnson’s business life” and “adopted a course of conduct to marginalize Dreyfuss and limit his influence.”
According to the complaint, Dreyfuss began representing Johnson early in his career and helped him land writing and directing projects including Looper and Breaking Bad that launched him into the spotlight.
Dreyfuss claims in 2002 he agreed to represent Johnson in exchange for 10 percent commission on any and all projects he facilitated, including “renewals and/or options that are exercised or contracts that have been renewed.”
The suit claims Johnson agreed to pay that commission whether or not the employment contracts were procured as a result of Dreyfuss‘ efforts and whether or not the employment continued after the end of their agreement.
Johnson brought on CAA as a co-agency in 2011, which was part of Bergman’s plan to shut Dreyfuss out, according to the complaint.
The crux of the complaint is the spring of 2014.
Dreyfuss claims in January of that year, the head of Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy, contacted him to ask about Johnson’s interest in future film projects. Kennedy and Johnson had met in 2012, thanks to Dreyfuss, the suit claims.
Johnson turned down the meeting, saying he wanted to focus on his own projects and didn’t want to consider outside source material, according to Dreyfuss.
A few months later, Johnson fired Dreyfuss “because he could not justify paying Plaintiff 10% when he was already paying other percentages.” Dreyfuss says he offered to take a reduced commission to continue their working relationship and eventually Johnson admitted he just wanted to pursue other opportunities.
Dreyfuss “alleges that Bergman used his extensive influence on and over Johnson to convince him to forestall any pursuit of the opportunities with Lucasfilm, in particular the Star Wars Projects, until after Johnson terminated Plaintiff as his representative.”
Dreyfuss is suing for not only damages, but also a declaration from the court that Johnson is required to pay him 10 percent of all commissionable projects, including Star Wars.
Reps for Johnson and Bergman have not yet responded to requests for comment.
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