First Legendary Pictures tried to fire the original producers of its Godzilla reboot, then Legendary filed a suit against those same producers demanding that they be kicked off the flick with just $25,000 in compensation. Now those producers are firing back, and they want to take Legendary for "millions."
Producers Roy Lee, Dan Lin and Doug Davison filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court Thursday, demanding that the contract dispute with Legendary be decided by a jury trial, that they be allowed to participate in the franchise for as long as they want and that they get some serious compensation for all this trouble.
"By this action, Cross-Complainants seek a judicial declaration that the never-discussed arbitration provision in the unsigned draft agreement is not enforceable and that this dispute must be tried before a jury in the Los Angeles Superior Court. More importantly, Cross-Complainants seek substantial compensatory damages, in the millions of dollars, resulting from Legendary's material breach of its agreement to pay them the fixed and contingent compensation to which they are contractually entitled. Cross-Complainants seek specific performance of Legendary's agreement to accord them screen credit and allow them to participate in prequels, sequels, and remakes or, if such relief is unavailable, recovery of the substantial damages resulting from the loss of such credit and opportunities," the suit read.
You can read the full lawsuit here, but if you want the short version, here's the dispute:
Lin, Lee and Davison claim they're the ones responsible for bringing Godzilla to Legendary from Japanese rightsholder Toho. They also claim that they were promised to be treated well by Legendary throughout the production. Earlier this month, Legendary decided Lin, Lee and Davison's services were no longer required, and tried to use a 2011 agreement with the producers to oust them from the production. According to Legendary, this agreement said they could fire Lin, Lee and Davison if they were not "deemed to be engaged" in the project. The agreement also allegedly said that the producers could be booted from the film without any credit with just a $25,000 payout. In its suit, Legendary requested the case be moved to third-party arbitration as soon as possible, to prevent a feared move by Lin, Lee and Davison to halt production on the movie.
As you can tell from the above quote, Lin, Lee and Davison claim that the 2011 agreement was never valid, and that Legendary "raced to the courthouse" to file its own suit to prevent them from exercising their rights to a property that they brought over from Japan in the first place.
So, to sum up: Legendary wants to boot the three producers from the movie, give them a handful of money and never see them near Godzilla again, and they want all this done out of court. Lin, Lee and Davison want back on the movie (and any sequels it spawns), they want full credit, and they want Legendary to pay them a lot of money, plus they want a jury to decide they're right. So ... yeah, this is a real mess.
Godzilla was set to start production in March, though depending on how all this courtroom drama plays out it could be significantly delayed. As we keep ticking closer to the May 16, 2014, release date, we can't help but wonder if the King of the Monsters might be a little late heading into theaters.