It’ll be almost a year to the day after the new Godzilla hits the big screen, but the long legal clash between Legendary Pictures and a trio of veteran producers dumped from the reboot now has a trial date. Despite Legendary’s efforts to keep the matter private, the parties will be arguing their case in front of a jury in LA Superior Court starting May 17, 2015. That could change if the two sides reach a settlement over credits and compensation for the Warner Bros-distributed tentpole. If that doesn’t happen, the trial, which ejected producers Roy Lee, Dan Lin and Doug Davison have been seeking since filings started flying in January 2013, is scheduled to last around 10 days. The case was reassigned to Judge Michael Beckloff earlier this week. The new Godzilla movie, from director Gareth Edwards and starring Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, David Strathairn, Juliette Binoche and Sally Hawkins, opens May 14.
An actual trial date, which was set last week, is new, but the fact this case is going before a jury comes as no surprise after a California Appeals Court judge on March 4 denied Legendary’s attempt to keep the dispute out of the courts and the public eye. Justice Judith Ashmann-Gerst’s ruling was in response to a May 10, 2013 ruling by Judge Abraham Khan denying Legendary’s desire for arbitration in the potentially multimillion-dollar lawsuit.
On January 9 last year, the company filed a complaint to remove Lin, Lee and Davison from the mega-monster reboot with a $25,000 payout. According to Legendary, the puny payout was all the trio were due under the March 2011 Producer Loan Agreement between them and Thomas Tull’s company. Lin, Lee and Davison, who Legendary claimed were about to seek a temporary restraining order against the pic, disagreed and filed a breach-of-contract cross complaint on January 17 last year. The three are seeking millions in compensatory damages, screen credit, and participation in Godzilla sequels, prequels, or further remakes for the work they say they did in helping Legendary acquire rights to the Godzilla character from Japanese corporation Toho and getting the big-budget film off the ground.
Stanton L. Stein, Bennett Bigman, and Ashley Yeargan of LA’s Liner Grode Stein Yankelevitz Sunshine Regenstreif & Taylor are repping the producers in the case. Dale Kinsella and Gregory Korn of Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert LLP are Legendary’s lawyers.