The same day that the film based on Martin Amis’ 1989 novel had its media and industry screening at the Toronto Film Festival, Matthew Cullen today took producers Christopher Hanley and Jordan Gertner to court for “fraud and deceit” and a variety of damages of more than $1 million to be proved at trial. Why? “In this case, the defendant producers have tampered with Plaintiffs’ work as director of the film,” says the jury-seeking complaint over London Fields filed Tuesday in L.A. Superior Court (read it here).
“None of the revisionary elements that Defendants have interjected into the film appear anywhere in the script,” the 17-page filing from Cullen and his Motion Theory company claims. “Nor do they have any place in the film, at least not the one that Plaintiffs were asked to direct. Among other things, these elements include incendiary imagery evoking 9/11 jumpers edited against pornography, as well as juxtaposing the holiest city in Islam against mind-control. No cast or crew member signed up for this, nor did Plaintiffs. But Defendants insist upon doing this, and more, in the names of Plaintiffs and others, notwithstanding their objections to the theft of their identities and the false, distorted and perverted associations that Defendants are imposing upon them,” adds the filing by lawyers for the noted video director and Guillermo del Toro protégé.
“To accomplish this feat, Defendants have perpetrated one fraud after another, from the hiring of Plaintiffs based upon false promises, to the ongoing marketing and promotion of their rendition of the film as something which it is not — a film directed by Mathew Cullen,” says the suit, landing a hard hit. News of the strained situation were first reported by the New York Times earlier today.
Starring Amber Heard, Billy Bob Thornton, Jim Sturgess, Theo James and Jason Isaacs among others and with a cameo by Johnny Depp, the world-falling-apart thriller is scheduled to publicly premiere on September 18. Further ticketed screenings are set for September 19 and 20, with the actors and producers expected to be in attendance. We doubt, after today, that Cullen will show up.
If you haven’t picked up what the first-time feature director is saying, it’s that the Spring Breakers producers, along with screenwriter Roberta Hanley, took over and ruined the film. They essentially made their own out-there version with his name on it – and Cullen wants them not to be able to use his name or his work to sell a film that he says is not the one he signed on to make. “Of course, Defendants have refused to honor their promise to produce London Fields as a DGA film, including the requirement in Section 7-202 of the Basic Agreement that ‘in no case will any creative decision be made regarding the preparation, production, and post-production of a motion picture without the consultation of the Director,’” Cullen’s complaint asserts.
IM Global are handling foreign sales for London Fields at TIFF with CAA handling domestic. CAA had no comment on Cullen’s complaint.
Not that there isn’t a lot to comment on. For one thing, the director says he never was paid the promised $300,000 fee. That’s comparably small change versus the more than $800,000 and other jobs that Cullen says he is directly out of pocket because of Hanley and Gertner not coming up with the money and resources they assured him they had for London Fields.
In his five-claim complaint Cullen and his attorneys Alex Weingarten and Jeffery Logan of Venable LLP alleges Fraud, Declaratory Relief, Misappropriation of Name and Likeness, Material Failure of Consideration and Unfair Competition.