Amityville Rights Holders Look To “Get Out” Of The Weinstein Co. Bankruptcy Sale

The Lutz family, whose experiences in the haunted house inspired The Amityville Horror book and motion pictures, is looking to get out of The Weinstein Company’s bankruptcy sale.

The family’s Amityville Enterprises says Dimension Films’ option to develop motion pictures or TV shows based their encounters with paranormal activity in the Long Island home expired on February 8, a month before Weinstein Co. filed for bankruptcy. It has filed legal documents asking the bankruptcy court judge to withdraw the option rights from the court-supervised sale of the company’s assets.

Dimension Films

George Lutz said he entered into an agreement with Weinstein’s Dimension Films in 2002 to develop a sequel to the successful 1979 film The Amityville Horror. That initial agreement was modified to contemplate more than one film production or TV series.

Time ultimately ran out on those rights, which reverted to Lutz on October 31, 2009.

The Weinstein Co. entered into a subsequent agreement that gave it the option to develop a feature-length film within 36 months. It exercised the option in May 2011 and, in early 2014, began filming Amityville: The Awakening.

Principal filming concluded in May 2014, but the Weinstein Co. delayed release of the picture for years — ultimately offering it free on Google Play and in a limited, one-day theatrical run in just 10 theaters. Published reports estimated the project brought in a mere $800 versus the $86 million box office for the original film.

The 2011 agreement grants The Weinstein Co. the option of a sequel, which is to commence filming within 36 months of the initial commercial release of Amityville: The Awakening or 45 months after completion of principal photography — whichever is earlier.

The Lutz family argues that the clock should start with the filming of Amityville: The Awakening — meaning The Weinstein Co.’s rights expired on February 9. The studio also failed to exercise the option to extend the production deadline by another year, at the cost of $125,000.

After The Weinstein Co. filed for bankruptcy, Amityville Enterprises said received notice that Lantern Entertainment or some other bidder would assume rights to future productions. Amityville Enterprises responded that those rights had reverted to the estate of George Lutz, but it’s received no response.

The family asks the court determine to that Amityville rights can’t be sold as a Weinstein Co. asset.

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