You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Weinsteins sued over ‘Escape’

Leech, Inerfield file suit over action-comedy toon

Claiming that “hubris, incompetence” and “a contempt for contractual obligations” sabotaged their film, producers Tony Leech and Brian Inerfield have filed a $54 million lawsuit against Bob and Harvey Weinstein for their handling of unreleased action-comedy toon “Escape From Planet Earth.”

The suit was filed Wednesday in New York Superior Court. The $54 million figure comes from what Leech and Inerfield estimate they would have made on the film as part of their 20% cut of adjusted gross profits.

“This is a completely frivolous lawsuit,” TWC attorney Bert Fields countered in a statement. “The pleading contains little more than false, gratuitous, slanderous, preposterous and totally irrelevant personal attacks on TWC and its principals. Plaintiffs were let go after they refused to make the picture which TWC wanted. They were paid in excess of $2,000,000 which is what was called for by their contract.”

Leech and Inerfield allege that the brothers mishandled the film’s finances and had to secretly take out a loan against the producers’ share of back-end profits to help finish the project.

The Weinsteins “are a real-life version of Bialystock and Bloom,” the pair’s attorney Judd Berstein stated in legal filings, refering to the duo in “The Producers.” The suit claims that the brothers even paid $500,000 to keep the lawsuit quiet so as not to jeopardize Oscar chances for “The King’s Speech.”

On the other hand, TWC claims Leech and Inerfield extorted the Weinsteins for the $500,000.

The detailed list of allegations in the court papers include endless requests for rewrites, needless cost overruns, breach of pay-and-play contracts and casting turmoil that, papers say, include the Weinsteins paying Kevin Bacon $25,000 to dissolve his attachment to a project in which he had agreed to participate. Papers also describe a confused casting tug-of-war that drops the names of Alec Baldwin, Jessica Alba, Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Garner among thesps considered for or attached to various voice roles.

The plaintiffs claim they were forced to do 17 script rewrites, in part because the brothers “failed to grasp basic realities about the animation process.”

In addition to financial damages, the duo also wants a recission of their original “Escape” agreement with TWC.

Papers also include allegations of breaches regarding a “Fraggle Rock” film adaptation, as well as other potential projects.

Another Weinstein attorney responded with allegations of his own. “Plaintiffs and their counsel threatened to attack Mr. Weinstein and the Weinstein Company publicly unless paid $5 million, an amount that bore no relationship to any possible amount in dispute. When their demands were refused, this lawsuit and their accompanying press campaign resulted,” he said in a statement.

The suit is the second for the Weinsteins within the past month. On Feb. 7, Michael Moore filed papers claiming he was owed at least $2.7 million on 2004 doc “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

(Gordon Cox contributed to this report.)

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Germany's Leonine Buys ‘Dark’ and '4

    German Indie Studio Leonine Buys ‘Dark’ and '4 Blocks' Producer W&B TV

    Leonine has acquired “Dark” producer W&B TV from Endemol Shine. Fledgling German studio Leonine had already bought Wiedemann & Berg Film and established itself as a Munich-based movies, TV, and digital production and distribution group. It has now added the W&B TV unit to its roster. The production company is behind several big German dramas [...]

  • iHuman

    Cinephil Acquires AI-Themed Political Thriller Documentary 'iHuman' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Tel Aviv-based Cinephil has acquired worldwide rights to Tonje Hessen Schei’s (“Drone”) “iHuman,” a political thriller documentary about artificial intelligence, power and social control. U.S.-based sales agent ro*co films is representing North America on the film, which will have its world premiere in the Frontlight section of Amsterdam’s International Documentary Film Festival. “iHuman” follows the [...]

  • 'Feast of the Seven Fishes' Review:

    Film Review: 'Feast of the Seven Fishes'

    Early on in “Feast of the Seven Fishes,” two characters debate the optimal way to decorate a house for Christmas. One favors an “understated” approach, with white lights and little more; the other argues that the holidays are no time for subtlety, advocating green, red and gold sparkle as far as the semi-blinded eye can [...]

  • Queen & Slim

    AFI Fest Film Review: 'Queen & Slim'

    Going to the movies can feel a lot like agreeing to a blind date: It’s normal to feel a little wary — but also a bit excited — at the potential before agreeing to spend two hours with characters you don’t know. If the film is any good, it wins you over early on, enough [...]

  • Steven Spielberg Branko Lustig

    'He Left Me Speechless': Steven Spielberg Remembers Branko Lustig

    Steven Spielberg has offered a touching remembrance of Branko Lustig, the Holocaust survivor who produced “Schindler’s List” with Spielberg and Gerald Molen and died Thursday in Croatia. “I was heartbroken to hear of Branko’s passing and my thoughts are with his family and friends,” Spielberg said. “When we first met to discuss ‘Schindler’s List,’ he [...]

  • Dylan Brosnan and Paris BrosnanGolden Globe

    Pierce Brosnan’s Sons Paris and Dylan Brosnan Named 2020 Golden Globe Ambassadors

    Pierce Brosnan’s two youngest sons, Paris and Dylan Brosnan, have been named as the 2020 Golden Globe Ambassadors, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced on Thursday evening. Paris and Dylan are also the sons of journalist and author Keely Shaye Smith. The ambassador(s), a title that typically goes to the son or daughter of a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content