Russian Producer Sues U.S.-Based Screenwriter Over Script Rights

Moscow Russia Aerial View - H 2013
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Moscow Russia Aerial View - H 2013

The California-based writer, in turn, threatens to report producers to Russian authorities.

The Russian production company Teterin Films filed a lawsuit in Russia and hired a U.S. attorney to sue a California-based writer for alleged extortion of extra payment for a script he was commissioned to write.

According to court documents, Yevgeniy Raksha, a Russian screenwriter who resides in the United States, was paid approximately $50,000 to write a screenplay for the film Ponedelnik Nachinayetsya v Subbotu (Monday Begins on Saturday), which Teterin is producing.

Based on the 1965 novel by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky, the movie is co-produced by the Russian IT firm Croc, with funding from the Russian government.

Teterin claims that Raksha, who was fully paid for his work on the script, demanded extra payments and threatened to sell earlier drafts of the script and "file frivolous complaints with the Russian Ministry of Culture, whose consent is required under Russian law before the film is released."

Under the contract signed between the producers and the screenwriter, exclusive rights to the script were transferred to the producers, who now consider the screenwriter's demand to be extortion.

This comes as the first-ever lawsuit involving a Russian production company and U.S.-based screenwriter.

At home, Teterin was recently involved in a lawsuit over its participation in Viy, the highest-grossing local film of 2014.