New Line, Katja named in Ripper suit

Director William Friedkin has sued New Line Cinema Corp. and Katja Motion Picture Corp. for allegedly blocking development of a Jack the Ripper film after he spent more than two years working on it.

According to a complaint filed Thursday in L.A. Superior Court that alleges fraud and breach of contract, Friedkin signed an agreement with the film companies to direct a film based on a book called “The Diary of Jack the Ripper” in February 1995.

Pursuant to the pact, Friedkin helped New Line and Katja acquire rights to the book, the complaint said.

More than a year later, after scripts by two writers were found unacceptable, the defendants allegedly told Friedkin that if he rewrote the script, New Line and Katja would “promptly” decide whether to go ahead with the project and put it in “turnaround” so that Friedkin could take the project elsewhere.

The defendants also allegedly said they would negotiate a fee for the rewrite in good faith.

But after Friedkin spent more than eight months on the rewrite, accordig to the suit, he discovered in March that the studios were acquiring rights from Disney to another Ripper project called “From Hell,” to be directed by Allen and Albert Hughes.

The studios have refused to put Friedkin’s picture in turnaround despite apparently abandoning development of his film. They also have not paid him for his rewrite, the complaint alleges.

The lawsuit seeks at least $2.5 million in compensatory damages and unspecified punitive damages.

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