Deadline reported last fall on the lawsuit last Sepember that pitted former allies Vittorio Cecchi Gori against Gianni Nunnari, producers of some of Hollywood’s larger movies the past few years. Cecchi Gori has released this press release claiming victory (a spokesman for Nunnari said that “We are obviously disappointed with the judge’s decision and intend to appeal”):
A final Statement of Decision in the lawsuit between Oscar-winning film producer Vittorio Cecchi Gori (Life Is Beautiful, Il Postino and Mediterraneo) and film producer Gianni Nunnari (the former President of Cecchi Gori Pictures) was entered on March 25, 2011 by Judge Amy D. Hogue in the Los Angeles County Superior Court.
The Judgment awards Cecchi Gori $13,226,125 in damages, plus $2,608,075 in interest. In addition, Cecchi Gori was awarded future income from four films: 300, The Departed, Shutter Island, and Everybody’s Fine, and film rights and future income from four additional film projects: The Cyclone, Ferrari, Taming Ben Taylor and Martin Scorsese’s next picture: Silence. Cecchi Gori will also apply for an additional award of his attorneys’ fees and costs of suit (for nearly three years of litigation including a four-week bench trial before Judge Hogue).
According to the 50-page Statement of Decision, Nunnari and his company, Hollywood Gang Productions, committed fraud against Cecchi Gori, as well as multiple breaches of fiduciary duty, and breach of contract.
The Statement of Decision describes the history of the parties, which reads much like a Hollywood script. Cecchi Gori opened a Los Angeles production office in the 1980s and Nunnari was placed in charge of the office through April 2008. During his last few years, he produced 300 and Everybody’s Fine, and developed Silence and other projects, using the Cecchi Gori name, employees, offices and other assets. But, it was found that Nunnari diverted all of the money generated from those films and projects to his own personal company, Hollywood Gang, rather than Cecchi Gori. The Judgment awards Cecchi Gori $8.6 million paid thus far on account of 300, $1.3 million paid on Everybody’s Fine, and $3.2 million paid on Silence.
Nunnari and Hollywood Gang filed 12 causes of action against Cecchi Gori, but the court dismissed every single one.
Niels Juul, the current CEO of Cecchi Gori Pictures, states: “We are obviously very pleased that our two years of litigation has ended in a total victory. There are other aspects of this case, other than civil, that we could explore, but we now prefer to shift our energy to more positive matters. Mr. Cecchi Gori is looking forward to getting on with producing acclaimed films, including the upcoming collaboration with Martin Scorsese on Silence.” Niels Juul is partner in brand recovery firm Nofatego LLC, who was brought in to restructure Cecchi Gori Pictures in 2009.
“Obviously we are extremely happy with this result,” said Charles J. Harder, Cecchi Gori’s trial attorney. “The ruling sends a message to Hollywood that the courts will not tolerate anything less than fair play.”
Cecchi Gori is represented by attorneys Charles J. Harder and Marc E. Rohatiner of the Wolf Rifkin law firm in West Los Angeles.
Gianni Nunnari and Hollywood Gang are represented by Timothy J. Gorry of Eisner, Frank & Kahan, LLP in Beverly Hills.