Looks like more than the paranormal are a threat when it comes to The Conjuring. After months in arbitration with Warner Bros over who owns what rights to the sequels and spinoffs of the successful New Line-released supernatural thriller, producer Tony DeRosa-Grund and his Evergreen Media late last week filed a breach of contract complaint (read it here) against the studio and its subsidiary. And it’s not just over movies: the 30-page complaint alleges that because of this dispute with Warners and New Line, Lionsgate eventually pulled out of a proposed Conjuring TV series deal it had with Evergreen in late summer last year. “As a direct consequence of Defendants’ deliberate actions and interference, Evergreen is unable to collect the compensation owed under its agreement with Lionsgate and has suffered monetary damages that reach well into the millions of dollars,” says the complaint filed in federal court in Texas on March 28. Released on July 19 last year, Conjuring has pulled in more than $318 million globally, and a sequel set for October 2015 was announced last month. Among other claims by DeRosa-Grund and Evergreen is that the producer has not been paid the profit participation he and New Line agreed on out of their use of case-file material the plaintiffs owned of the investigations of Ed and Lorrain Warren.
The plaintiffs evoke the names of Bob and Harvey Weinstein in their dense complaint as yet another example of Warner Bros and New Line playing a rights shell game.
“The foregoing conduct and actions of Defendants are part of a repeated pattern of behavior and deliberate scheme perpetrated by Defendants to unlawfully reap the rewards and profits of successful theatrical motion pictures based on the rights of Plaintiffs and others. This aforementioned pattern and scheme is clearly evident from an action recently brought against Defendants by Miramax, LLC, Harvey Weinstein and Robert Weinstein in New York, wherein those plaintiffs raise similar disturbing allegations with respect to three filmed installments of J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit,” says the filing. The Weinsteins and Hobbit matter is also currently before an arbitrator.
Warner Bros says this is not how the dispute should be handled. “New Line has been and is vigorously defending itself against these spurious claims in a binding arbitration proceeding in Los Angeles, and therefore the Texas filing is both procedurally and substantively improper,” the studio said today in a statement
That’s not the way DeRosa-Grund and Evergreen see it. “This action is also brought by Plaintiffs against Defendants to establish that Defendants have converted or misappropriated the underlying rights to such theatrical, direct-to-video and sequel motion pictures, and to address the fact that without this Court’s intervention Defendants will not include Mr. DeRosa-Grund as a producer and credit him,” the complaint adds. “New Line has refused to employ Mr. DeRosa-Grund as a producer in connection with the anticipated The Conjuring 2 sequel to The Conjuring or Annabelle or to pay Plaintiffs anything for its use of the Case Files or materials provided to New Line or used in the Annabelle production.”
Sanford L. Dow of Houston firm Dow Golub Remeis & Beverly reps DeRosa-Grund and Evergreen.