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Motion in ‘Ocean’

Court asked to declare prod'n co. bankrupt

AMSTERDAM — Some 35 creditors for the Dutch-backed film “Ocean Warrior” filed suit Wednesday asking Dutch courts to declare the film’s production company Ocean Warrior Ltd. bankrupt.

The pic, about environmental activist and save-the-whales champion Paul Watson, has been dead in the water since early February when it ran out of money to pay its cast and crew. But producer Bous de Jong had raised the hope that it would revive when additional funds came down the pipeline.

“Ocean Warrior” was the biggest budget pic to come out of the highly publicized Dutch tax incentive scheme, but only a third of the 140 million guilder ($58 million) budget was raised and the pic never got out of pre-production.

Among creditors filing the action are director of photography Jules van Steenhoven, art director Hemmo Sportel and U.K.-based Animated Extras, the animatronics company that constructed three life-sized adult whales, one baby whale and a whale carcass.

A spokeswoman for Ocean Warrior said the company was surprised at the legal action, adding it had assured creditors new money would allow it to go forward.

The spokeswoman declined to say where the money was coming from “for competitive reasons.”

But Jetse Sprey, an attorney representing those who filed the legal action, said it was time to show his clients the money. “My clients are willing to cooperate and they want to see this film made. But in a case like this, we’d want to see either a bank guarantee or money in the bank, something concrete.”

Sprey said the legal action will determine who is liable for some of his clients damages. He added one of the companies likely to be named as having some liability was MPC, a subsidiary of the German investment company that was responsible for bringing investors into the “Ocean Warrior” project.

The courts are expected to rule in two to six weeks.