Trimark sues over ‘Weeks’

Lions Gate, others defend rights to sequel

Trimark Pictures is getting steamed up over “The First 9-1/2 Weeks” — and not in a good way.

The Santa Monica-based indie is suing producer Peter Hoffman, Lions Gate Films and former Trimark co-topper Barry Barnholtz, among others, over distribution rights to the recently completed prequel.

In the complaint, filed April 28 in L.A. County Superior Court, Trimark alleges that when it acquired the domestic distribution rights to “Another 9-1/2 Weeks” from Hoffman’s Cinevisions in 1995, it also obtained the rights to acquire all future “prequels, remakes and sequels.”

The deal even specified a formula for computing how much Trimark would pay for later installments, based on their production budgets, according to the suit.

The complaint further alleges that Cinevisions licensed Lions Gate and Barnholtz to produce a prequel without giving Trimark the right to distribute it.

“There was an obligation on the part of Cinevisions to let us know this was going forward, and to let us know what the budget was,” said Trimark director of legal and business affairs Wayne Levin. “At no time did they present it to us.”

None of the defendants could be reached for comment Monday.

“Another 9-1/2 Weeks,” which starred Mickey Rourke, Agathe de la Fontaine and Angie Everhart, premiered on Showtime and later was distributed on videocassette by Trimark. That film was itself a follow-up to the 1986 erotic drama “9-1/2 Weeks,” which starred Rourke and Kim Basinger.

According to Levin, Trimark has contacted the defendants in an effort to resolve the matter amicably, with no success. “The first thing we’re seeking is to obtain the rights to distribute the picture,” said Levin.

In the event that isn’t possible, however, Trimark is seeking damages. While no dollar amount is specified, the company is looking to recoup any profit it lost from not distributing the film. “There may also be a potential for punitive damages given the conduct of some of the parties involved,” said Levin.