'The Black Dahlia' Producers Sue Nu Image Claiming Unpaid Profits

The Black Dahlia Still - H 2015
Courtesy of Photofest

The Black Dahlia Still - H 2015

Producers of The Black Dahlia, the 2006 crime film starring Scarlett Johansson and Aaron Eckhart, have sued the production company Nu Image claiming it has failed to pay them according to their profit-participation agreements.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Moshe Diamant and Rudy Cohen say in 2005 they were contracted to produce Black Dahlia with Nu Image head Avi Lerner and Art Linson. They claim they were to receive part of the film's revenue, including half of Nu Image's distribution fee, and a producer's fee of $1 million each contingent on the film's sales.

They say they upheld their end of the deal, including preselling the film to Universal for domestic release and other distributors for foreign release.

The Brian De Palma drama, co-starring Josh Hartnett and Hilary Swank and based on crime writer James Ellroy's novel about two policemen whose lives unravel after they investigate the 1947 "Black Dahila" murder in Los Angeles, performed moderately at the box office, grossing $10 million in its first weekend and $49 million worldwide in all.

Diamant (whose credits include Timecop and the thriller Getaway, with Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez) and Cohen and his April Films (which produced FearDotCom, Extreme Ops and The Musketeer with Diamant) say Nu Image still hasn't paid their portion of the profits or their producer's fees. They don't specify damages (read the complaint) but want more than $1 million.

Represented by Marcin Lambirth's John Marcin and Jennifer Price, they claim breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and demand an accounting.

The case is not the first filed over accounting and revenue sharing for Nu Image, one of the companies run by B-movie mogul and The Expendables producer Lerner. In 2011, investors in the Robert De Niro and Edward Norton film Stone claimed Nu Image duped them into pledging $5.775 million to the film knowing it wouldn't meet the company's sales projections. The same year, investors in the Nicolas Cage film Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans claimed the company improperly accounted the project's expenses and failed to distribute profits.

Then in 2012, producer John Langley alleged the company refused to pay $2.3 million related to the cop drama Brooklyn's Finest. The suits were all settled.

Nu Image declined to comment.

July 22, 3:24 p.m. Updated with Nu Image declining comment.