An Alameda County Superior Court judge this week denied motions by former employees of Manex Entertainment (“The Matrix”) requesting an order to prevent managing director Robert Bobo from transferring ownership of the f/x company in an alleged sales scheme.
Judge James Richman ruled that Michael Van Himbergen, Roger Davis and Dr. Steven Gillam were unlikely to prevail on their claim that Bobo is attempting to sell Manex for about $20 million in an attempt to defraud the trio of their ownership rights and keep royalty fees from software development and other revenues out of their pockets.
Filed just prior to the Academy Awards, where “The Matrix” won for best visual f/x, the preliminary injunction request brought up unsubstantiated charges of fraud and forgery to support the motion.
“These disaffected individuals have a history of using public exposure to try their case in the media,” Bobo said in a statement. “They had no qualms in saying anything, however inflammatory, to pursue their own self interest, knowing that due to this matter pending before the court, we could not speak publicly on the eve of the company’s finest hour.”
Bobo also stressed that he is not selling Manex.
“We’re not selling the company,” Bobo told Daily Variety. “We’ve brought in investors and money to expand the company into new areas (including film production and Internet), upgrade our soundstages and expand our technology to produce better visual effects.”
Since Richman’s ruling, the law firm of Cheasty & Cheasty, which represents the trio, has not returned phone calls, after courting press attention last week.
Bobo said the request for a preliminary injunction has damaged Manex.
“The injury to our company is real,” Bobo said. “This deliberately timed action struck directly at the hundreds of people whose hard work and artistic dedication was about to be recognized by their peers at the 72nd Academy Awards last Sunday.”
Manex, which is bidding for the next two “Matrix” sequels, after its groundbreaking work including Flow Mo and Bullet Time visuals on the first, created shots for “Romeo Must Die” and is busy on “Mission: Impossible 2” and “Bless the Child.”
Injunction request was part of a suit Manex initially filed as a Complaint for Declaratory Relief in November 1998 against the trio to counter their claims of their ownership stakes in Manex.
Developments in the suit were nonexistent until Friday’s preliminary injunction effort.
“We’re pleased with the judge’s decision and believe that it’s correct,” said Cash Nickerson of Strauss Nickerson, who is repping Bobo.
Bobo said, “We are setting our sights on the future (and) intend to make the finest creative contributions possible to our industry and we will continue our commitment to making a positive contribution to the Northern California community.”