Netflix’s The Laundromat began streaming online first thing Friday as planned after a ruling by a Connecticut judge moved the case to California, stopping an injunction that would have kept Steven Soderbergh’s award-season satire off the streaming service.
Judge Janet Bond Arterton in her ruling late Thursday transferred the action to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
“This lawsuit was a frivolous legal stunt designed to censor creative expression,” a Netflix spokesperson said Friday. “Steven Soderbergh’s film tells an important story about the exploitation of innocent people and the misuse of the world’s financial system. Fortunately, you can now watch The Laundromat – the film that Mossack and Fonesca tried to censor – on Netflix.”
Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca, the two partners behind now-dissolved Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca & Co, filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking damages and to stop the film’s release on the platform. The lawyers are depicted in the movie by Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas.
The complaint, made in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, was seeking damages and injunctive relief, claiming Netflix’s film “defames and portrays the Plaintiffs as ruthless uncaring lawyers who are involved in money laundering, tax evasion, bribery and/or other criminal conduct.”
Netflix had filed a motion to dismiss on Thursday, saying that the film is “constitutionally protected speech.”
The Laundromat, a prestige pic for Netflix that premiered at Venice and also played Toronto, already had an awards-qualifying theatrical run last month. It stars Meryl Streep and Sharon Stone in the story of a widow investigating legal fraud that became the Panama Papers scandal by chasing down the lawyers behind Mossack Fonseca.
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