First, come the Oscars. Then the lawsuits. (Unless you’re Bob Yari.) I hear those French filmmakers may be about to sue Warner Independent Pictures for a bigger cut of the $77 million-to-date box office gross of March of the Penguins, winner of the Best Documentary Feature at Sunday night’s Oscars.
As everyone knows by now, Mark Gill picked up Penguins for $1 mil up front. (Premiere magazine was among those asking “what was Mark Gill thinking?” when he paid that princely sum for a mere doc.) The Frenchies also got back end, albeit just net. Warner’s: We always pay our obligations. The French guys: We just wish it was more. Studio execs know it’s not unheard of to throw guys like this a bone in the form of a bonus when the deal was cheap and the profit humongous. Attorneys tell me that, given a signed contract, a lawsuit will probably be thrown out. Or not.
Those Frenchies controlled all the March of the Penguins licensing and could have really cleaned up if they’d been savvy. But I’m told they repeatedly wouldn’t approve any licensing deals because they thought it cheapened the film. Yet they brought big stuffed penguins to the Oscars and, not only did it look like they were exploiting their movie’s message, but those dolls’ licensing is owned by someone else.