SYDNEY — The producer of hit Aussie movie “Shine” has won a bitter A$2 million ($1.3 million) court battle against the film’s Paris-based sales agent Pandora, after the British Court of Appeal unanimously threw out an appeal against a U.K. High Court decision in favor of Jane Scott’s Momentum Films and awarded costs against Pandora.
“Apart from the moral high ground, which is very satisfying, we have brought back a hefty sum of money,” said Scott, whose lawsuit was backed by Oz government film agencies the Film Finance Corp. (FFC), the Australian Film Commission, the South Australian Film Corporation and Cinemedia.
“This has been a terrifying experience for me and this is really a win for the little person. Independent producers don’t usually have the resources to chase after difficult distributors and agents,” Scott said.
The two-year battle centered on recoupment and accounting matters, with Scott alleging Pandora “was applying a curious and very unusual construction of our contract, which not surprisingly gave Pandora a better financial deal.”
Scott argued Pandora owed her money from handling international sales outside Oz and the U.K., while Pandora countersued, saying the film’s budget should be recouped from those two territories only and not out of its share and that Scott owed it money.
“I hope this settles the matter for once and for all and that we can resume correct royalty arrangements,” said Scott, whose Oscar-winning Scott Hicks-helmed film about disturbed concert pianist David Helfgott took $83 million at the worldwide box office.
Pandora is also out of pocket after settling a lawsuit with the producer of its other hit film, “Kolya.”
That suit concerned disputes over marketing expenditure, sales, cross-collateralization and recoupment matters.
Portobello Pictures’ Eric Abrahams, producer of “Kolya,” told Variety the U.K. High Court suit had been settled “to the mutual satisfaction of both parties” with Pandora paying him “a significant amount of money.” Pandora could not be reached for comment.
More legal trouble
But Scott, whose Momentum Films faced bankruptcy had she lost the Pandora lawsuit, is not yet out of the legal woods.
A separate suit by the estate of late composer Sergei Rachmaninoff, whose Piano Concerto No. 3 features heavily in the film, is seeking major damages for an alleged breach of copyright and moral rights in French courts. The estate claims the composer’s music is insufficiently credited in the movie.
(Adam Dawtrey in London contributed to this report.)