French Court Rules Against Terry Gilliam in Final 'Don Quixote' Battle

Alan Amato

The director will have to pay $11,600 in damages to former producer Paulo Branco.

Terry Gilliam's The Man Who Killed Don Quixote has lost its latest legal battle. 

Following its world premiere as Cannes closing night film, a French court ruled that Gilliam will have to pay €10,000 ($11,600) in damages to former producer Paulo Branco.

However, the decision should put to bed the dispute between Gilliam and Branco of Alfama Films in France. The two have been tied up in court for months, as Branco sued for breach of contract and sought an injunction to block the release of the film as well as its screening in Cannes. That motion was denied, allowing the film starring Johnathan Pryce, Adam Driver and Olga Kurlyenko to premiere at the festival.

In his suit, Branco claimed legal rights to the film based on a 2016 contract signed with Gilliam. The two had a falling out when the promised funds failed to come through and Gilliam moved forward on production. Branco said Gilliam was in breach of contract; Gilliam contended that the agreement was for production and he didn't own copyright over the script.

Gilliam brought on Amy Gilliam and Mariela Besuievsky as producers, with the support of Belgium’s Entre Chien et Loup and France’s Kinology.

Branco had won the first three judgments over rights, although a judge allowed filming to go forward, and lost when he tried to block the film's premiere in Cannes.

The film received a 10-minute standing ovation after its closing night screening at the festival. Gilliam’s struggles over two decades to bring his pet project to the screen have become the stuff of movie legend, and the subject of the 2002 documentary Lost in La Mancha.

With the legal windmills finally behind him, Gilliam can move forward on seeking U.S. distribution of the film, but it may be a tough sell. Kinology is seeking a new distributor after Amazon pulled out  amid all the legal turmoil.

Don Quixote is set to roll out across the rest of Europe beginning in July. Beijing-based Turbo Film has snapped up Chinese rights for the film, but have yet to set a release date.