UPDATE, 12:55 PM: Sycamore’s lawyer Maura Wogan of Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz just responded to the suit. “The claims of Seven Seas are without merit. The film was on budget, on schedule, and all funds were used appropriately. Additionally, Seven Seas’ decision to file this lawsuit under the cover of darkness and go public before presenting Sycamore with a copy of the suit itself speaks to the weakness of the allegations.”
PREVIOUS BREAKING, 11 AM: In Hollywood, everyone knows that legendary director Terrence Malick marches to the beat of his own drum. But his unorthodox ways has led to a lawsuit in New York Federal court, waged against his Sycamore Pictures LLC by the London-based film financing company Seven Seas Partnership. They charge that after investing millions of dollars into Voyage Of Time — a documentary series narrated by the likes of Brad Pitt about the ascent of man — the film has been a no-show, with funds and Malick’s time allegedly redirected toward his other film projects. The lawsuit (read it here) claims Malick did little or no work on what is supposed to be a trio of projects. When confronted, Malick and his company refused to open the books or produce the footage that was supposed to have been shot.
According to the lawsuit, while Malick was supposed to be working on the docu, he instead was working on films including the Oscar-nominated Tree Of Life, which starred Pitt, and To The Wonder, which starred Ben Affleck. The complaint alleges Malick was only supposed to work on other pictures if it didn’t interfere with the docu. Seven Seas was formed by Norwegian‐born financier Andreas Roald for Voyage of Time. It is a unit of Roald’s Sovereign Films, which is producing the Emma Thompson-Dakota Fanning-starrer Effie Grey and Olive’s Ocean.
“Sycamore has blown through nearly $6 million over the last six years on this project with nothing to show for it,” said Seven Seas counsel Dan K. Webb, an attorney at Winston & Strawn. “Our contract specified that funds were to be used exclusively for Voyage but we believe some were redirected to other films Malick was producing during that period, in flagrant disregard for our agreement.”
Seven Seas wants the court to force Malick to repay the $3.3 million it has invested to date and hand over any film footage and other intellectual property from the Voyage project, which also got $2.5 million from another investor. Seven Seas has distribution rights for the two 45‐minute IMAX films and one feature film covered by the agreement. According to the complaint, Malick pitched it as the crowning achievement of his career.
According to the lawsuit, the $12 million project was supposed to be done by May 1, 2013. But Seven Seas terminated the contract on February 15, 2013, when it became clear that little progress had been made on the films, deadlines had been missed, and Sycamore’s accounting appeared to be in disarray. The deal was made in late 2010 and by early 2012, Malick claimed to have shot a majority of the raw footage for the docu but never produced it.