'Lego Movie' Sequels Animator Fires Back at Lawsuit

The Lego Batman Movie Still 4 - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of Warner Bros.

The feud among parties involved with the Lego Movie sequels is quickly rising to the level of that between the animated Batman and Joker depicted in the film.

Animal Logic Entertainment is countersuing producer Jason Lust for breach of contract and tortious interference. Lust sued the Australian VFX house turned production company in October, claiming he was conned into giving up his intellectual property. He says he worked tirelessly on projects like Peter Rabbit and Astro Boy, and consulted on the Lego Movie sequels under the terms of a 2013 shortform agreement. A longterm agreement never came, and he says he was shut out of Peter Rabbit after handing over his IP rights in the work and is owed both front-end producer fees and back-end compensation.

In the countersuit, Animal Logic chief executive Zareh Nalbandian says Lust was brought on to "identify, acquire and subsequently develop projects to pitch to studios and financiers for greenlighting into production" for a two-year term. He says their relationship was "at will" and it was clear in the agreement that Lust would have to sign over any copyrights or other IP he owned in connection with projects he worked on for the company.

Animal Logic claims it provided Lust monthly advances per their deal, but he needed more money — so it advanced him $120,000, of which only $20,000 has been repaid. The company also says that Lust has publicly asserted that he still owns copyrights in projects on which he worked for them and is interfering in third-party negotiations. Specifically, they question his intent to transfer rights in "two motion picture projects with Warner Bros. titled Claus and Nemesis; another motion picture project with Columbia titled Monkeys."

The full complaint is posted below.