Yet another layer of bickering in Relativity Media’s financial collapse was revealed Friday afternoon, when the bankrupt studio filed court papers to try to prevent a Calabasas firm that insures film releases from seizing the thriller “The Disappointments Room.”
Relativity’s lawyers claimed that UniFi Completion Guarantors first tried to grab the film from Technicolor one day before the mini-studio’s July 30 bankruptcy filing. UniFi has continued its bid to gain control of the film to hand it over to foreign distributors, despite a stay from the bankruptcy court intended to prevent such moves, Relativity claims.
The Beverly Hills-based entertainment company asks for a temporary restraining order and injunction from U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Michael Wiles to prevent further attempts to distribute the film overseas before Relativity can release it in the United States.
“A premature foreign release is likely to result in an increased rate of piracy that threatens domestic box office receipts,” Relativity’s chief restructuring officer, Brian Kushner, claims in a declaration to the court. “Moreover, a premature foreign theatrical release could negatively impact the ability to book theaters domestically, which directly impacts a film’s financial performance, because a film’s international performance could negatively impact domestic theater owners’ expectations of domestic performance.”
“Disappointments Room,” a thriller starring Kate Beckinsale and Lucas Till, is one of several films whose releases were delayed when Relativity ran out of distribution and promotional funds. The film, about a mother and son terrorized by something in the attic, was written by Wentworth Miller and directed by D.J. Caruso.
The firm filing the action against UniFi Completion Guarantors, Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman, previously sent a letter designed to thwart another overseas gambit related to Relativity. That letter demanded that OneWest Bank back off on its attempts to collect distribution fees from foreign film exhibitors. The bank is owed nearly $28 million by Relativity, but it is prohibited from pushing its collection efforts during the bankruptcy, the Kasowitz firm argued.
Foreign distributors have complained that the loss of Relativity films, particularly the comedy “Masterminds,” had left a hole in their schedules. But agreements, typical to the industry, do not allow foreign releases until films have debuted in the U.S.
UniFi is affiliated with Homeland Insurance Company of New York, according to the legal filing. Technicolor Creative Services USA also filed papers Friday in the bankruptcy court seeking to deflect the UniFi takeover of “Disappointments Room.”