'Spring Breakers' Producers Sued Over Alleged Attempt to Hide Assets (Exclusive)

Spring Breakers Key Art - H 2013

Spring Breakers Key Art - H 2013

Muse Productions, the shop behind Spring Breakers, is now defending a lawsuit that contends it has rushed to hide its assets in light of allegedly failing to pay $300,000 on its forthcoming film London Fields, an adaptation of one of Martin Amis' most famous literary creations. At stake could be the sequel to Spring Breakers.

The lawsuit was filed on Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court by Periscope Entertainment, which says it agreed to advance money for the development of London Fields, directed by Mathew Cullen and starring Billy Bob Thornton and Amber Heard. It's a film adaptation of Amis' dark novel from 1989 that focuses on the impending killing of Nicola Six, a promiscuous psychic, told by an unreliable narrator who on the opening page says, "This is the story of a murder. It hasn't happened yet. But it will."

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The film finally started production last September -- after many years in which such filmmakers as David Cronenberg and Michael Winterbottom took a crack -- and as a result, Periscope says it attempted to get Muse to hand over $270,000 in owed money.

"Muse, however, failed and refused to pay the money owed to Plaintiff," says the lawsuit. "Accordingly, on September 17, 2013, Plaintiff commenced an action against Muse, by filing a complaint for breach of written contract and fraud and deceit."

Periscope, operated by David Guy Levy (Would You Rather) and represented by attorney Glen Rothstein at Greenberg Glusker, says it was successful there, obtaining a right for the issuance of a writ. In February, the parties are said to have entered into a stipulated judgment of $300,000.

But around that time, the plaintiff says that it learned that Muse had transferred certain of its assets to a company called Nicola Six Limited, controlled by Jordan Gertner, who along with co-defendant Christopher Hanley was a producer on Spring Breakers. According to the complaint, the assets included the right to the copyright of the London Fields screenplay.

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"At no point in time did Muse notify Plaintiff that it intended to or indeed had transferred the Screenplay to Nicola," says the lawsuit, which now contends that this was a fraudulent transfer to evade the stipulated judgment.

Periscope's complaint also reveals "that an existing lien in the Screen Actor's Guild's favor against Muse exists with respect to the motion picture Spring Breakers."

The lawsuit continues: "Plaintiff is currently and actively pursuing any and all post-judgment enforcement remedy proceedings at its disposal to seek the full recovery of the Judgment, including but not limited to, having recorded applicable liens with, among others, the U.S Copyright Office on all Muse owned and/or transferred motion picture and other titles it has thus far discovered, including Spring Breakers."

If that's not enough, Periscope is seeking to obtain liens on other Muse properties, including Spring Breakers: The Second Coming, which has been in the press of late thanks to star James Franco's dissatisfaction that the sequel is going forward. As for London Fields, which is in postproduction and being primed for release during the film festivals later this year, the lawsuit could impact that film as well. The lawsuit asks for an injunction requiring defendants not to convey assets, including those previously transferred to Nicola.

We'll add comment from Muse if we hear any.

Email: Eriq.Gardner@THR.com
Twitter: @eriqgardner