Coppola makes case in ‘Pinocchio’ suit

Cross-examination of helmer to resume today

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Jurors in Francis Coppola’s case against Warner Bros. got a taste Friday of what “Pinocchio” might have looked like by viewing test scenes and animation from the ill-fated project accompanied by commentary from Coppola.

The purpose of this unusual seminar apparently was to show the jury how far along the film was, how the Columbia Pictures version differed from the Warners project and how the director would have been able to trim $10 million from an early estimated budget of $70 million. Coppola testified that although he experimented with expensive computer graphics, he intended to use much cheaper puppets and stop-motion photography for much of the film.

On his final day of direct testimony, Coppola stated that he received a total of $3,100 from Warners on “Pinocchio” plus $700 in reimbursements. He also testified that what “crushed” the project at Columbia was the notice from Warners that it had rights in “Pinocchio.”

Coppola’s legal claim is that Warners improperly interfered with his deal at Columbia. He is seeking $22 million in damages based on lost fees and a percentage of estimated gross profits. Warners’ position is that it believed it had a deal with Coppola on “Pinocchio,” and in any event, the project failed at Columbia because of budget concerns, not Warners’ interference.

Coppola’s cross-examination just got under way when the court recessed on Friday. It will resume Monday.