Days after Worldview Entertainment, one of the the investors behind the much acclaimed feature Birdman, sued its ex-CEO over embezzlement, Christopher Woodrow today struck back with his own lawsuit alleging damages of potentially more than $55 million lawsuit.
“Defendants breached their fiduciary duty to Plaintiff by engaging in a plan designed to dilute and deny Plaintiff’s interest in Worldview and damaged the value of Worldview to Plaintiff,” says the wide-ranging multi-claim filing in NY State Supreme Court this morning (read it here). “By reason of the foregoing breaches of fiduciary duty, Plaintiff has been damaged in an amount in excess of $30,000,000 with the precise amount to be determined at trial.”
There’s more based on the messy and public way Woodrow’s departure from Worldview was handled earlier this year and statements the company made about him, including court allegations that he used the place as a personal bank.
“Defendants publication caused actual damages to Woodrow as well as punitive, special, consequential and such other special damages and harm or defamation per se in an amount that is alleged to be in excess of $25,000,000 or as otherwise proven at trial,” the complaint says.”Petitioner seeks reinstatement of his credits as executive producer or producer of certain movies produced by Worldview prior to his wrongful suspension as CEO in May 2014.”
Seeking million more in damages and fees, the lawsuit additionally claims tortious interference by Worldview and its current executives has damaged his reputation and ability to do business. The ex-CEO also cites “intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, trespass, invasion of privacy and violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act” for “unauthorized access” to his personal email.
After forming the film financier in 2007 and seeing it steadily grow, Woodrow suddenly exited in early June this year, as my colleague Mike Fleming Jr exclusively reported. That departure came as the company had set up a five-year co-fi deal with The Weinstein Company and raised $200 million in new capital. The departure also caused Open Road to back off the release of Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno, because Woodrow had promised to pay the film’s P&A costs.
With Birdman getting strong Oscar buzz ahead of its theatrical debut this weekend, especially for Michael Keaton‘s starring performance and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s directing, this move to the courts will only further stain Worldview’s movies.
“I have stood by patiently and quietly over the last four and a half months while baseless and meritless claims were made against me, often publicly,” said the Worldview founder in a statement released Wednesday. “With the filing of this lawsuit against Worldview Entertainment and its principals today, I am happy and relieved to know that my story will finally be heard in a court of law and the truths pertaining to the operation of Worldview will come to light.”
The full list of defendants in Woodrow’s suit are Worldview Entertainment Holdings Llc, Worldview Entertainment Holdings Inc., Prospect Point Capital Llc, Roseland Ventures Llc, Maria A. Cestone, Sarah E. Johnson A/K/A Sarah Johnson, Redlich and Molly A. Conners. Woodrow is represented by the New York firm of Paykin, Krieg & Adams, LLP.