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Gerard Butler Sues Producers of 'Motor City' for $5.1


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Gerard Butler is suing the producers of "Motor City" for $5.1 million in damages, claiming he was not paid after the film was scrapped last summer.

Butler is alleging breach of contract and breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing in a suit filed this month in California Superior Court.

Randall Emmett and George Furla's Emmett/Furla Films, which financed "Motor City," is named as a defendant, as is the limited liability company, Motor City Productions, that was established for the film.

Production on "Motor City" ended abruptly last summer when backing for the revenge thriller fell through with two weeks to go before cameras started rolling. Joel Silver’s Dark Castle was also producing the film, and Warner Bros. was set to distribute. Neither Silver nor Warner Bros. were named in the suit.

Butler's salary consisted of a $4 million pay-or-play component, meaning he was guaranteed payment even if the film was never made. He was also due to receive up to $2 million in deferred compensation, according to the lawsuit.

However, Butler's attorneys allege in the suit that in August of last year, the actor's agents at Creative Artists Agency were informed that production would be shut down and his guaranteed payment would not be forthcoming.

"Seeking to capitalize on Butler's hugely popular persona and worldwide recognition, Defendant solicited Butler's services as the lead actor in a theatrical motion picture tentatively entitled Motor City," the suit reads. "After offering Butler the starring role in the motion picture on a pay-or-play basis, Defendant then used and exploited Butler's attachment to the motion picture to pre-sell the distribution rights and raise financing."

Click here for the full suit [5]

Rick Rosenthal, an attorney for Emmett/Furla, counters that the company never signed a contract with Butler and described the suit as "frivolous."

"There is no written agreement between the parties and there were still outstanding deal points that were material to the deal that were not agreed upon," Rosenthal told TheWrap. "Everybody wishes the movie had gone forward, but they do not have any legal liability."

Butler's deal was originally supposed to be richer. According to the suit, he was initially offered $6 million in guaranteed fixed compensation and up to $4.5 million in deferred compensation. Butler agreed to lower his price after Emmett/Furla said that the film's budget had been scaled back, but he claims in the suit that he only consented to the new salary after the producers acknowledged that the majority of his fee was pay-or-play.

The actor claims that not only was he never paid his guaranteed salary, but because of his commitment to the film, he was forced to turn down other roles and did not seek alternative projects.

In addition, the lawsuit states that the actor negotiated with producers of "Olympus Has Fallen," another action film he was working on, to ensure that he would complete filming on that movie in time to start production on "Motor City." As part of that pact, Butler assumed liabilities on the film of $1.1 million, the suit claims.

A spokeswoman for Butler did not respond to request for comment nor did his attorney Brian Wolf.

In November, TheWrap reported that vendors and crew members on the aborted production were owed roughly $500,000 in unpaid bills.

At the time, Emmett said in an interview with TheWrap that all of the outstanding debts would be paid by January. He insisted he was not ducking payments, but said that the company was still auditing invoices and verifying their legitimacy.

Some vendors say that as of this week they are still waiting to be reimbursed for their work on the film, although others have been paid.

Rosenthal said on Wednesday that he could not speak to any specific bills, but said his client would address any "legitimate" debts.

Emmett/Furla financed $250 million in productions last year. It recently released "Broken City," starring Russell Crowe and Mark Wahlberg. It is also working on several big-budget productions like Peter Berg’s Seal Team drama “Lone Survivor" and "2 Guns," starring Wahlberg and Denzel Washington, both of which are slated for release this year.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.


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More on the story in The Hollywood Reporter, Feb. 14:

'Motor City' Producers Face Lawsuits from Gerard Butler, Film Financier

The suspension of an Albert Hughes film causes the lead actor and a finance company that made a bridge loan to attempt the collection of allegedly owed money.

Last September, production on Motor City was suddenly halted just as it was about to begin shooting. The film was to be directed by Albert Hughes (Menace II Society, Book of Eli) and had stars Gerard Butler, Mickey Rourke and Adrien Brody attached. Perhaps most importantly, it had the backing of Randall Emmet/George Furla Productions, which has become an important producer in Hollywood.

Less than six months after production on Motor City was suspended thanks to scheduling difficulties, Randall Emmet/George Furla Productions is now facing multiple legal actions for the move.

Butler is suing producers for allegedly violating the terms of his deal, which he says was "pay-or-play." But that's not all.

Last Friday, Row 1 Entertainment, a motion picture finance company which provided a bridge loan for Motor City, commenced an arbitration at JAMS, alleging that it is now owed nearly $2.7 million, and that Emmett/Furla has refused to pay. Additionally, Row 1 also filed a lawsuit on Wednesday at LA Superior Court, seeking the issuance of Writs of Attachment to prevent the producer from dissipating the funds it says it is owed.

The decision to pull the plug on the film, reportedly because producers weren't confident they'd make a hard release date, has now triggered a legal backlash.

In his lawsuit, Butler says his attachment to the film was used to pre-sell the distribution rights and raise financing. He further alleges that after months of negotiations, the parties reached an agreement whereby the actor would get fixed guaranteed compensation of $4 million on a pay-or-play basis and contingent deferred compensation of $2 million more.

According to the complaint, "In reasonable reliance on those representations, Butler's agents turned down other potential offers for his acting services during the period of time that he was expected to render services on Motor City and refrained from actively seeking any alternative acting work on Butler's behalf during the period of time that he had committed to render services on Motor City."

Butler says that he was informed on August 31 that the picture had been canceled and that producers didn't intend to pay him.

Rick Rosenthal, an attorney for Emmett/Furla, told TheWrap, which first reported Butler's lawsuit, that it was "frivolous," that the parties "had no written agreement" and that "there were still outstanding deal points that were material to the deal that were not agreed upon."

Meanwhile, Emmett/Furla must also contend with the financier who put up a bridge loan.

According to that lawsuit obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, $1.735 million was made available with an agreement to pay 30 percent interest on the first $200,000 and 20 percent on the remaining amount. Additionally, the maturity date of the loan is said to have been October 9, with monthly late fees of 5 percent of the total amount if defendants failed to repay the principal.

According to the complaint, "As of the time of the filing of this petition, Defendants have failed to repay any portion of the Amount Due and have failed to make any firm commitment to pay the amount due by a date certain."

Alleging breach of contract, Row 1 wants a judge to confirm any award issued in the arbitration and make orders that would aid in the collection.

We've reached out to Rosenthal for comment and we'll update if we hear anything.

Both Butler and Row 1 are being represented by Brian Wolf at Lavely & Singer.

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