Screenwriter Sues To Stop Indie Movie In Its 'Tracks'

Film starring Michelle Monaghan, Willem Dafoe, and Stephen Dorff is in jeopardy over alleged breaches of screenwriter's rights.

The screenwriter behind the forthcoming film Boot Tracks is asking a judge to issue an injunction to prevent the release of the psychological thriller.

In a lawsuit filed last week in California federal court, writer Matthew Jones alleges that producers of the movie breached promises against making significant artistic changes to his screenplay, which was based on his own novel published in 2006.

Boot Tracks is about an ex-con who seeks vengeance for his jail-house mentor by going on a road trip with a woman he meets along the way. The film stars Michelle Monaghan, Willem Dafoe, and Stephen Dorff.

According to the complaint, after the novel came out, Jones was "courted" by defendants David Jacobson and Larry Rattner with assurances that the film would be consistent with the authenticity of the novel. In November 2010, Jacobson, who directed the film, and Rattner, who produced it, allegedly gave the writer authority over any script changes in the "Option Agreement."

Jones alleges that the defendants fraudulently made such promises "so they could misappropriate (his work) and use it in the way they wanted."

The film is said to be materially different from the screenplay in order to secure a financing and a distribution deal. Allegedly, principal photography was completed without the producers ever actually exercising the option to purchase Jones' work. 

After Jones learned of this, he says he confronted the defendants, who were allegedly unresponsive to his concerns until they learned that Jones planned to file a lawsuit. At which point, they purportedly exercised the purchase option.

Now, Jones is suing for copyright infringement, breach of contract and fraud. He's demanding $500,000 in compensatory damages, $1 million in punitive damages, further statutory damages, an injunction against the film's release, and dissolution of the defendants' film company, Dirt Blossom.

The defendants couldn't be reached for comment.


Twitter: @eriqgardner