'Snowden' Financing Explored in $3 Million Fraud Lawsuit

An international sales agency sues Vendian Entertainment.
Courtesy of Toronto International Film Festival

Wild Bunch, SA, the film distribution and international sales company, alleges in a lawsuit filed on Friday that one of the production companies on Oliver Stone's Snowden hasn't contributed $3 million in gap financing for the picture as agreed.

The target of the lawsuit is Vendian Entertainment, which was Christopher Woodrow's company after the blow-up of Worldview Entertainment.

According to the complaint in New York federal court, Wild Bunch made a deal in 2015 with the film's main production company, Sacha, Inc., whereby the sales agency got the exclusive right to license and sublicense Snowden in numerous territories around the world. Wild Bunch agreed to a minimum guarantee of $2.5 million and would pay Sacha a "net balance" of the film's gross receipts minus $11.5 million (the amount of a bank production loan).

Wild Bunch says that Vendian then agreed to a $3 million payment to cover the "net balance" portion not covered by gross receipts, but that Vendian hasn't followed through here.

The lawsuit states that Woodrow at one point raised the issue of how U.K. distribution rights impacted Vendian's contribution while Vendian's president Michael Bassick blamed "pre-sale shortfalls," also writing in an Oct. 12, 2016 email that he was "working on a couple deals that could generate cash for Vendian to cover a portion of the payment."

In December, Woodrow and Bassick parted ways after several of its films including Snowden, Free State of Jones and Black Mass underperformed. The Oliver Stone film made an estimated $15.7 million in foreign gross.

With about $3 million now allegedly owed, Wild Bunch says the gap has caused some disruption.

"In addition to causing Wild Bunch to default on its obligations to the Bank, Sacha is also purporting to terminate the grant of Italian and Spanish distribution rights to Wild Bunch," states the complaint being handled by Scott Sholder and Marissa Lewis at Cowan, DeBaets. "While Wild Bunch has conveyed to Sacha’s counsel that its position has no merit, the domino effect caused by Vendian’s breach of contract and fraud continues to the great detriment of Wild Bunch."

Wild Bunch has been in court with Woodrow's former company, Worldview, as well, resulting in a $750,000 win for the sales agency over money for Wish I Was Here.

We've reached out to Bassick for comment and will update if a response comes.