Warner Bros. Sued for Distributing 'Laws of Attraction' Without License

Warner Bros. Studios - H 2012

Warner Bros. Studios - H 2012

Warner Bros. is being taken to court again by two German film companies that claim the studio breached a settlement agreement covering four films and is violating their copyright to Laws of Attraction, starring Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore.

The Zweite Academy and the Erste Academy — together captioned and abbreviated as "MHF" — previously sued Warner Bros. in 2012 over films that included The Whole Ten Yards, The In-Laws and Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever. The plaintiffs produced the films and entered into distribution agreements with special purpose entities in return for a minimum guaranty, earmarked gross receipts and other payments. The films were then brought to Warner Bros. via sub-distribution agreements, but along the way, the films got caught up in the bankruptcy of companies controlled by David Bergstein.

In the 2012 lawsuit, MHF alleged that the distribution agreements were rejected by the debtors under bankruptcy code, which terminated distribution rights, so Warner Bros. couldn't keep exploiting the films as it was alleged to be doing.

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According to the latest lawsuit and attached documents, Warner Bros. agreed in 2013 to pay MHF $432,578 to settle old claims and also agreed to provide an accounting on the films going forward.

MHF now claims that just four months after the ink dried on the settlement agreement, Warner Bros. was in breach of their obligations by failing to provide statements and payments on Ballistics: Ecks vs. Sever, starring Antonio Banderas and Lucy Liu, and The In-Laws, starring Michael Douglas and Albert Brooks. By September 2013, Warner Bros. allegedly defaulted on Laws of Attraction and The Whole Ten Yards, starring Bruce Willis and Matthew Perry.

The plaintiff filed a motion in the old case to vacate the dismissal and settlement this past August, which is said to have caused Warner Bros. to send accountings and payments for $39,459 for the films other than Laws of Attraction. Warner Bros. is said to have disputed the claimed obligation on that film. The judge wouldn't allow MHF to vacate, ruling that it would have to pursue a separate action for breach of the settlement agreement.

"Nevertheless, despite failing to provide Zweite Academy with any accounting or payments due to MHF during the Post-Settlement Period, Defendants continue to distribute and otherwise exploit the Laws of Attraction and/or facilitate the distribution and exploitation thereof," states the new lawsuit. "Defendants have also breached and continue to be in breach of their obligations under the Settlement Agreement by failing to make timely payments to MHF in accordance with terms provided in the Settlement Agreement."

MHF is seeking all sorts of damages for Warner Bros. allowing the film to be exhibited in downstream forums. The complaint was filed by Lauren Gans at Shenson Law Group.

Warner Bros. declined comment.

E-mail: Eriq.Gardner@THR.com
Twitter: @eriqgardner