An investor has filed a $1.5 million lawsuit against Voltage Pictures, alleging the company failed to properly exploit a teen comedy which flopped last fall.
Gerard Barba, a French executive in the medical logistics industry, invested $1.7 million with Voltage in 2014. The investment was intended to cover half the budget of “Good Kids,” a teen farce that appeared on the 2011 Black List. The film was written and directed by Chris McCoy, and given a limited theatrical release last fall. Box office totals were not reported, except in Lithuania, where it grossed $20,125.
Barba accuses Voltage CEO Nicolas Chartier of failing to consult with him before selling distribution rights at prices well below the agreed-upon “take” price. The suit also accuses Voltage of deliberately failing to sell the rights to certain territories. To date, Barba has received about $200,000 in proceeds from the film, according to his attorneys.
“Defendants have placed their goals and financial interests ahead of those of their financing partners and investors, including Plaintiff, and in direct conflict with their contractual obligations, by telling or convincing their foreign distributors and licensees not to license or buy the Picture,” the lawsuit states.
The suit, filed Wednesday in L.A. Superior Court, also accuses Voltage of engaging in “secret side deals” with international distributors. Barba alleges he was given overly optimistic foreign sales prices as a means of fraudulently inducing him to invest.
Chartier said he had not seen the suit and declined to comment.
“Either he made a terrible movie he couldn’t sell or he doesn’t want to sell it to his clients,” said Martin Barab, one of Barba’s lawyers. “He’s got many hats in this deal. Maybe he wanted to preserve his relationship with his distributors.”
In the complaint, Barba admits that he is “not familiar with the entertainment industry.”
The suit alleges that Voltage sold the Brazilian rights to the film for $24,000, far less than the “take” price of $125,000. France and Germany had prices of $450,000 apiece, and were not sold. The U.S. rights were given a take price of $1.5 million, but sold to a distributor without a minimum guarantee.