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Franchise moves to nix Intertainment suit

Motion to dismiss complaint based on unsupported charges

Franchise Pictures has moved to knock out Intertainment’s fraud lawsuit, claiming the suit fails to specify how budgets were allegedly inflated on the numerous films Franchise produced for Intertainment.

In its motion to dismiss the complaint, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Franchise called Intertainment’s suit “a blatant attempt to torture a garden-variety contract dispute into screaming headlines of fraud and ‘racketeering.’ ” Behind the suit, Franchise said, is an effort to “save face with its investors … and shore up its flagging stock price.”

Unsupported charges

The basis of the motion is that Intertainment has not supported its charges that Franchise inflated budgets on such films as “Get Carter,” “The Pledge,” “Art of War,” “3,000 Miles to Graceland,” “Battlefield Earth” and “The Whole Nine Yards.” According to the motion, the suit also fails to establish that there was misconduct by each of the 24 entities it sued. (In addition to Franchise Pictures, Intertainment also sued chairman Elie Samaha, CEO Andrew Stevens and the individual production companies responsible for each of the films.)

Among many other claims, Franchise also seeks to dismiss Intertainment’s RICO claim brought under the federal anti-racketeering statute, arguing the suit does not describe a criminal enterprise engaged in a conspiracy.

A hearing on the motion is scheduled for April 9.

The war between Franchise and Intertainment burst into public view in late December. Franchise sued Intertainment in L.A. Superior Court, charging that the once high-flying German entertainment company had breached its output deal. The suit was withdrawn so the parties could discuss settlement, but when talks failed, Intertainment filed a fraud suit in federal court against Franchise and Imperial Bank, the primary lender on Franchise’s pictures. Franchise re-filed the next day, and the suits later were combined in federal court.

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