Judge confirms Franchise win

Intertainment disputes significance of judgment

Franchise Pictures claimed a victory Thursday in a long-running dispute with Intertainment, when a judge confirmed a $6.5 million judgment against the German entertainment firm over the pic “Caveman’s Valentine.”

But Intertainment immediately disputed the significance of the judgment.

In December, an arbitrator found that “Caveman’s Valentine” had been properly delivered and ordered Intertainment to pay the $6.5 million license fee. The arbitration award was confirmed Thursday. The arbitration was brought by National Bank of Canada, one of Franchise’s lenders, because the license fee was assigned to it. Intertainment argued that the film did not meet technical quality requirements and should not have been released from the lab.

Of the victory, Elie Samaha, CEO of Franchise, said, “Barry Baeres (chairman of Intertainment) tried to smear us. He said no one would do business with us after this lawsuit. But since then we have extended our domestic distribution deal with Warner Bros. and extended it internationally. Our U.S. banks continue to support us, and we went to Germany to Barry’s hometown and raised 140 million euros in a media fund underwritten by Commerz Bank.”

Intertainment attorney Scott Edelman minimized the victory, saying Franchise was not a party and it had nothing to do with the underlying issues in the case, namely whether Franchise padded the budgets on some 14 films. Furthermore, he added, the main case is going well, and pointed to discovery sanctions issued against Franchise. In one order, the court described the positions taken by Franchise as “mysterious and inconsistent.”

Franchise attorney Larry Stein said that’s nonsense. The arbitrator in the “Caveman’s Valentine” case did address the budget fraud issue, said Stein. Furthermore, he maintained, Intertainment has raised quality issues on each film as a pretext to slow down its payment obligations because it is out of money.

As for the sanctions, Franchise attorney Ann Loeb dismissed them as typical litigation disputes.

Franchise and Intertainment have been warring for more than a year. Franchise charges that the once high-flying German entertainment firm that put up nearly half the budget on Franchise’s films in exchange for foreign distribution rights, breached its output deal. Intertainment claims that Franchise inflated budgets on numerous films.

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