‘Black Book’ backers sue

Creditors file bankruptcy petition against prod'n co.

LONDON — Ah, the perils of pic financing.

While Paul Verhoeven’s homecoming pic “Black Book” has had a boffo opening run at the Dutch box office, tallying nearly $5 million in five weeks, not everyone in Holland is happy.

The $22 million pic — the most expensive Dutch production ever — was funded by an intricate web of regional funds, tax deals and pre-sales.

Now, producer San Fu Maltha finds himself at the center of a local media storm after creditors filed a bankruptcy petition against Zwart Boek, the pic’s production company, seeking $125,000 in unpaid debts.

The petitioners — including a gardener, hotel, pizzeria, an accounting firm and set builders — say they’ve been waiting for more than a year to be paid for services related to the World War II thriller.

“This was a hugely complicated production and it is a limited amount of money that is outstanding,” Maltha said by phone from the Pusan Film Festival. “We’ve never said people wouldn’t get paid. Everybody had a letter saying they would be paid late because the budget was based partly on presales.”

When the film went overbudget by $1 million, Maltha and Verhoeven even reinvested some of their own fees.

Maltha said the bills of some of the petitioners originally involved in the suit have already been settled.

And the duo can take some consolation in the pic’s kudos. It swept the award the recent Netherlands Film Fest awards, picking up Golden Calves for best pic, director and lead actress.

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