TriStar moves to block Reebok’s ‘Maguire’ suit

In a colorfully worded response to Reebok’s lawsuit over product placement in “Jerry Maguire,” TriStar Pictures has filed a motion to dismiss the $10 million complaint. The motion asserts Reebok has failed to substantiate its claims and also points to an agreement it offered in the deal in which the language actually refutes some of the athletic apparel maker’s claims.

Reebok filed its lawsuit Dec. 23, claiming producers of the film reneged on an agreement to run a specially created commercial starring Cuba Gooding Jr., as the fictional football player Rod Tidwell, during the film’s closing credits (Daily Variety, Dec. 24).

Laws on planet Earth

“Unfortunately for plaintiff, the legal sufficiency of its various claims must be judged by the law prevailing on Planet Earth, not Planet Reebok,” the motion filed Monday in U.S. District Court stated. “And while the complaint’s rambling introduction is noteworthy for its flamboyant prose and media driven hyperbole, it is utterly devoid of legal significance.”

At issue is the validity of a document negotiated between reps for the studio and Reebok. The document discusses terms of the placing of Reebok products in the film, and the production of the commercial.

But the agreement was never signed, and Reebok, the motion asserts, “refused to provide TriStar with a redraft because of open issues.”

Reebok alleged in its initial lawsuit that the proposal constituted an agreement and was breached when the commercial was not included in the film.

The athletic apparel maker also made fraudulent concealment and trademark infringement claims, which Monday’s motion refutes.

The motion said, “Reebok’s conclusion that it would not have authorized the use of its name in the (film) had it known the commercial might not be used is countered by its written proposal which expressly contemplated that very possibility and provided, in that circumstance, that TriStar would simply repay Reebok its production costs for the commercial.

Lou Meisinger, attorney for TriStar, declined to comment.

The motion also noted that the decision to not include the commercial was actually made by Gracie Films, producers of “Jerry Maguire,” and not the studio.

Producers promised

Reebok claimed in its lawsuit that the film’s producers repeatedly said the commercial was integral to the film’s story of redemption and that it would appear as promised.

In the film, sports agent Maguire, played by Tom Cruise, has a latenight epiphany and issues a mission statement that seeks to revolutionize the agenting business.

As a result, Maguire is fired from his firm and is left with just one client, Tidwell, who goes from a disgruntled and selfish second-tier player to first-tier football great.

Reebok, which had fashioned a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign to tout its association with the film, claimed it had no warning the commercial would be cut from the film. It was told the spot was excised “because it no longer fit creatively in the film.”

A hearing on the dismissal motion has been set for Feb. 10.

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