Yari enters legal ring over ‘Champ’

Momentum's lawsuit claims it is owed $1.3 mil

Bob Yari Prods. and Alliance Atlantis Releasing’s Momentum Pictures are wrangling over monies paid for the U.K. distribution of “Resurrecting the Champ.”

Momentum filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Federal Court last Friday claiming BYP owes it $1.3 million. Suit claims BYP sold Momentum distribution rights to “Resurrecting the Champ,” starring Samuel L. Jackson, and “Man on a Ledge,” with John Travolta attached to star. Momentum says the deal allowed it to return “Champ” rights to BYP if it failed to produce the Travolta pic, with BYP then responsible for repaying the minimum guarantee and other expenses.

“Man on a Ledge” was never made and, according to the suit, BYP “has offered no legitimate excuse for its failure to honor its promises.” “Champ” has earned $70,000 overseas and has not been released in the U.K.

Suit comes one week after Yari Film Group Releasing filed a notice of arbitration against Alliance Atlantis Releasing’s Momentum, Motion Picture Distribution of Canada and Aurum Producciones of Spain.

“They owe us $70,000,” said Yari Film Group’s general counsel, Elizabeth Bell. “They paid us $1.3 million of the full minimum guarantee of $1.4 million. We feel the proper venue for this dispute is the Independent Film and Television Assn. (IFTA), which has standard arbitration procedures for international distributors.”

Bell maintains Momentum did not file its “put” in a timely manner — by April 1, 2007 — on “Man on a Ledge.”

“They were waiting to see how ‘Resurrecting the Champ’ did theatrically in the U.S. We opened the movie with every expectation that they would release the movie. They sat on the rights far too long, until December. We sent numerous letters denying the put.”

As to why the two movies were packaged in this cumbersome way, Bell said “that’s a question for the international sales department.”

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