Francis Coppola laid the death of “Pinocchio” at the feet of Warner Bros. co-chairman Bob Daly on Thursday.
In a surprisingly personal attack, Coppola attorney Robert Chapman closed his case by asking the jury: “Where is Bob Daly? He wouldn’t talk to Mr. Coppola (referring to a letter Coppola wrote to Daly and Warner’s co-chairman Terry Semel) and he wouldn’t talk to you.”
L.A. Superior Court Judge Madeleine Flier did pour some cold water on the significance of Daly’s absence by informing the jury that Daly didn’t testify because she had ruled it wasn’t necessary.
But according to Coppola’s team, Daly’s absence symbolized the “arrogant” studio that “crushed” his project to teach him a lesson.
For its part, Warners ate away at Coppola’s little-guy-against-the-system stance by declaring that it was Coppola’s greed, not Warner Bros., that killed “Pinocchio.”
“How much is enough for this man?” asked Warner attorney J. Larson Jaenicke. “He got $15 million on ‘Jack’ and ‘The Rainmaker,’ with more to come,” said Jaenicke.
Jaenicke thereupon outlined a normal development process on the “Pinocchio” project that ended when “Dracula,” which Coppola had directed for Columbia Pictures, became a surprise hit.
“Then the double dealing began,” said Jaenicke. Coppola secretly wrote his own screenplay and took it to Columbia to try to get a better deal at the same time he was telling Semel and Daly he wanted to work things out with them but he had no script, said Jaenicke.
Beyond the mudslinging, both sides extensively addressed the legal issues that arose during this four-week case to determine whether Warners unlawfully interfered with Coppola’s ability to make “Pinocchio” at Columbia.
Coppola’s team steadfastly maintained there never was a deal with Warners because the contracts were never signed and the $3,100 Coppola was paid under his producing deal was a ludicrous amount to bind the director.
Warners said both parties believed and proceeded as if they had an agreement.
The jury got the case Thursday afternoon. Coppola is seeking $22 million in damages.