Tony DeRosa-Grund is still battling it out with Warner Bros over his role and rights for The Conjuring franchise, but now a new legal front has opened against the producer – a lawsuit with implications that could potentially spook the studio and New Line’s plans to enlarge the horror franchise of the hit 2013 paranormal pic. In the complaint, a novice producer is alleging that not only does the often litigious DeRosa-Grund owe him more than $250,000 from a sprawling deal gone wrong, but that he in fact holds the rights to the about-to-be released Annabelle as well as October 2015‘s The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist.
“As Defendants described to Plaintiffs prior to November 8, 2013 and after, The Demonologist case files consist of, among others, the Perron Farmhouse, Annabelle and The Enfield Poltergesit (sic),” says Paul Rock and Paul Rock Produced in a filing made on August 27 in LA Superior Court. “Therefore, the Demonologist Agreement sold to PRP the movie rights to the case files of, among others, the Perron Farmhouse, Annabelle and The Enfield Poltergesit,” the 28-page, 9-claim complaint adds (read it here).
“Plaintiffs later discovered that Defendants have a history of selling the same rights to movies numerous times and to numerous individuals/entities to the detriment of all buyers of said movie right,” the trial-seeking filing bluntly also notes.
That and this lawsuit might be very unwelcoming news to WB and New Line who’ve been trying to get the multi-million dollar breach of contract lawsuits filed by DeRosa-Grund earlier this year either resolved or moved back into arbitration. With the first Conjuring having made over $318M globally, there is a lot more than chump change involved in what is becoming an increasingly crowded and complicated affair. To that end, in a departure from their previous stance that a 2009 agreement gave WB/New Line a plethora of rights to the ghostly case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren, WB in early July offered DeRosa-Grund $750,ooo for Annabelle. Calling the money “five months late and potentially over a hundred thousand dollars short,” DeRosa-Grund decided to have it both ways. He kept the money , sources say, and he moved forward with his amended complaint in the case. Interestingly, in court filings last month, WB/New Line said that they had no problem with DeRosa-Grund amending his original complaint. That move leads one to think forces are still trying to find a way to work this one out amicably. Today WB had no comment on Rock’s lawsuit or his claims.
In this most recent action against DeRosa-Grund and his Evergreen Media, the aspiring Rock claims that he was scammed by the producer last October into giving the latter $29,972 for the script of a film called The Demonist. According to Rock’s complaint, DeRosa-Grund told him Lionsgate was supposedly planning to quickly pick up the script for $250,000, and Rock could pocket the dough and be an EP on the pic. Like most things that sound too good to be true, that windfall never happened. What did happen was a convoluted and wayward series of promises and further payments that could make a good episode of a cable cop procedural. At one point, DeRosa-Grund even pulled Rock into a lawsuit of his own in Texas federal court. Interestingly, after months grinding away against Rock in the Lone Star state, DeRosa-Grund suddenly sent a notice of dismissal without prejudice to the Houston-based District Court on August 26 – just before Rock filed his suit in California state court.
In this case, it went up and down as Rock paid out almost $100,000 in total to DeRosa-Grund for scripts and various rights last year. It got very personal, too, with Rock’s actress wife being assured a “named speaking role in the movies made stemming from The Demonologist files,” and then $15,000 had to be paid to DeRosa-Grund to make sure that would still happen. The roller coaster continued with Rock himself being offered producing roles by “very wealthy and successful” DeRosa-Grund, and then supposedly the latter threatening to call up the FBI and investor and tell them the Florida-based businessman was a “terrorist.” Rock says DeRosa-Grund did do this with potential financiers and ruined the former’s relationship with them. At another point, Rock, who was an associate producer on the quick-to-DVD 2012 pic Crooked Arrows, claims DeRosa-Grund said he would ruin Rock’s barely launched Hollywood career and that of his wife. Then again, the producer also allegedly says he’d pay Rock back the money he owed him but that never happened either.
Alexander Gareeb and Fadi Rasheed of Woodland Hills’ Gareeb Law Firm are representing Rock and his company in the matter.