‘Color of Night’ stuck in DGA arbitration

A Directors Guild of America arbitration panel recessed Friday, unable to reach a decision in a dispute between the producer and director of the erotic thriller “Color of Night.” At issue is the final cut of the Cinergi production, which Buena Vista will distribute domestically.

Director Richard Rush (“The Stunt Man”) said that Cinergi topper Andy Vajna reneged on the editorial clauses in Rush’s contract.

According to Rush, his agreement allowed for up to three separate cuts and three previews. If after that process Vajna was unhappy with the response, he could prepare and screen a separate version. The ultimate arbiter would be the public, via market research screenings. Unable to agree on a final version of the pic, Vajna and Rush prepared separate cuts.

“Clearly my version came out ahead in testing,” said Rush. “The result was I was fired from the picture. It breaches our agreement and so I’ve asked the guild to decide.”

The DGA-Producers Basic Agreement allows for such arbitration, and these proceedings are legally binding.

Film critic Bill Arnold of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer said he saw the film at an advertised sneak and considered it “played very well” and “worked for the audience.”

An industry source said that the issue, based on Vajna’s past rapport with talent, was not about the film’s quality. “It’s about winning,” he said. “He fired the director off the last production (“Tombstone”). It’s his basic m.o.” Vajna could not be reached for comment on the weekend.