Steven Seagal and his companies Steamroller Prods. and Luminocity Media have been sued for $14 million by DVD movie producers plus distribs Kill Master Prods. and Nu Image.
Kill Master and Nu Image claim in a suit filed in L.A. Superior Court on Monday that Seagal’s on-set behavior during the production of two movies currently in post-production, “Today You Die” and “Mercenary,” caused production delays that could result in millions of dollars in reshoots.
The plaintiffs also claim that Seagal’s frequent, unapproved and unauthorized changes to the script and dialogue will result in the loss of millions of dollars in sales commitments because elements of the film that were promised now cannot be delivered to the film buyers.
Suit also alleges that “Seagal and his entourage continually harassed, intimidated and threatened the production and members of the production team with requests and demands that were inappropriate, outrageous or not contractually required.”
The plaintiffs claim they have already paid Seagal $3.5 million of his $4.75 million salary for his work on “Mercenary.”
The suit says that Seagal showed up on location in South Africa for “Mercenary” only “begrudgingly” and when threatened with legal action.
Seagal attorney Marty Singer called the suit “ridiculous and without merit” and “a clear preemptive strike” to a suit that Seagal was preparing to file against the plaintiffs alleging fraud; it could be filed as early as today.
Singer said attorneys and Seagal agents at William Morris notified Kill Master and Nu Image more than a month ago about substantial complaints of fraud they were bringing against the production in South Africa, where, he said, a criminal investigation into the loss of millions of dollars is under way.
An estimated $5 million-$7 million of the $13 million-$14 million production was not put into the pic, Singer said, which will damage the chances of the film getting a theatrical release in any territory.
On Tuesday evening, the day after the suit was filed, Nu Image offered to pay Seagal $650,000 of the remaining $830,000 he is owed on final payment of his salary for “Mercenary,” according to Singer. Nothing was mentioned at that time about the suit, which Singer said came as a surprise to Seagal on Wednesday.
As to the claims of misconduct during production that caused delays, Singer said the pic, which was shot in April and May, was completed under budget and on time.
Attorneys for Kill Master, who filed the suit, did not return calls for comment.