WGA West, ‘Expendables’ Writer Sued by Producers Over Credit

the Expendables

Action alleges fraud at 2009 WGA arbitration

Millennium Films and Nu Image have sued the Writers Guild of America West and writer David Callaham for alleged fraud in the screenwriting credit he received for 2010’s actioner “The Expendables.”

The suit was filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging fraud and unjust enrichment and declaratory relief.

The WGA West, which is the final arbiter over screenplay credits, and Callaham had no immediate response.

Millennium Films and Nu Image allege that the 2009 WGA arbitration gave Callaham a credit that was unwarranted. The plaintiffs are seeking the $102,250 bonus that was paid to Callaham and that the arbitration be reversed.

They are also seeking a jury trial, unspecified damages, legal fees and an order that they will not have to make sequel payments. And the plaintiffs have for the WGA to discipline Callaham.

Lionsgate is releasing “The Expendables 3” on Aug. 15.

The suit alleges Callaham had overstated his role in “The Expendables” script and withheld information from the WGA arbitration. According to the suit, Sylvester Stallone based some of the characters in the project’s script on Callaham’s “Barrow” script, which Stallone reviewed in 2002.

Because Stallone was also the director of the movie and a production executive, the WGA was required to hold the arbitration to determine screenplay credits.

The suit alleges that Callaham contended during the arbitration that he alone wrote the screenplay for ‘The Expendables” and asserts “these representations and Callaham’s position were patently false and confirmed by Callaham’s own written words and disclosures that came to light years thereafter.”

The WGA’s arbitration determined that Callaham receive the “story by” credit and the top spot in the shared “screenplay by” credit with Stallone. The suit said that Callaham and his Jittery Dog production company company began an arbitration this year for a $175,000 sequel payment for 2012’s “Expendables 2.”

Callaham has a “story by” screenplay credit on the upcoming “Godzilla” from Warner Bros. and Legendary. Stallone has over a dozen screenplay credits and received an Oscar nomination for the “Rocky” script.

The plaintiffs are  Nu Image Inc, Millennium Films, Double Life Productions, Alta Vista Productions Inc., Alta Vista Financing and Alta Vista Productions LLC. Plaintiffs are represented by Charles Coate and Darius Anthony Vosylius of Santa Monica firm Costa, Abrams & Coate LLP.

News of the suit first broke on the THR.com site.

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  1. Truth says:

    As a writer, I agree. But if he lied. A BOLD face lie at that, then repercussions may be in order.

    • Frank W says:

      Not sure how this worked out originally, but it seems Stallone wrote the script, was inspired by elements in the other’s script. Isn’t it supposed to be a major chunk of the script to be actually written by the other guy, not just ideas? It shouldn’t take a court to look at the original script and the final to figure this out. Was there proof he worked in a room or across the internet with Stallone? I had a slightly similar thing happen to me. I rewrote a guy’s spec script to give it logic (why Character A went to a location, etc) and that’s what we started shooting with for a time. Then he met this other guy who took over and my name was dropped. If we were getting paid for our work, then I’d sue, but as it ended up, I was just pissed off.

      • Truth says:

        Hmm. It sounds like you, considering the work by-laws, should have gotten paid (regardless) for the work you did. But unfortunately, getting credit was not something they were obligated to give you from the scenario you just told. However, the article above seems to infer something similar happened to the writer that happened to you but he told the WGAw just the opposite to get PAID. Without more details, of course this speculation. But they must have VERY compelling proof because WGAw system for these things are almost impossible to refute otherwise.

  2. RPD says:

    Just pay the writer, after all, the films are essentially based on his idea!!! This is only bad publicity for Expendables franchise. The fees listed, even by Hollywood standards, are a drop in the bucket given the budget. This suit makes no sense – unless you want to talk about Greed!!!

    • CitizenTM says:

      What do you mean by ‘even by Hollywood standards’ ? Are there places in the world where the fees would be considered even less than a drop in the bucket!? Tell me about them?

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