Producers of Romantic Drama 'After' Sue Distributor

After Still 1 - Aviron Pictures Publicity-H 2019
Courtesy of Aviron Pictures

The college-set romantic drama After is causing legal heartache for producers who say they've been shorted $315,000 in licensing fees for domestic distribution rights to the film.

After Productions LLC on Thursday sued Aviron for allegedly not paying the remaining balance of its $3.15 million guarantee in breach of their agreement.

The film, which has grossed just under $70 million worldwide, is based on Anna Todd's novel of the same name — originally a work of One Direction fan fiction. APL alleges that had Aviron carried out the "robust" marketing campaign it promised the film would have earned more at the box office.

After grossed just $12 million domestically, and APL argues it succeeded overseas because the film's foreign distributors appropriately marketed it. The complaint also alleges Aviron talked APL out of taking a "much more lucrative" distribution deal with Netflix.

"[D]uring negotiations, Aviron represented to APL that it was very well-capitalized, backed by global financial firm BlackRock, was fully equipped and committed to run a robust marketing campaign for the Picture, and that it would make the successful release of the Picture a corporate priority," writes attorney Jeremiah Reynolds in the complaint. But, after they signed the contract, APL learned Aviron "was essentially out of money."

Reynolds notes that Aviron is currently being sued by marketing firm Sito Mobile Solutions, which says it hasn't been paid for its work and alleges "Aviron’s 'poor credit' and 'unpaid bills' with several national outlets prevented a national media campaign and caused SITO to proceed with only a 'local,' 'fractionalized' advertising campaign for the Picture in the two weeks before its release."

After Productions' claims include breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, fraudulent inducement and negligent misrepresentation.

Aviron's counsel Betty Shumener on Monday sent The Hollywood Reporter a statement. “Aviron has no intention of litigating in the press and will respond through the proper legal channels if a complaint is served, which to date, it has not," she said. "Based on the filing from After Productions, LLC and the THR story, Aviron categorically denies all of the allegations put forth and will defend itself accordingly against these claims.”

Nov. 5, 9:10 a.m. Updated with a statement from Aviron.