Dan Lin, Roy Lee and Doug Davison have hit back at Legendary Pictures and its president Jon Jashni over the production company’s removal of the producers from the upcoming “Godzilla,” accusing Legendary of trying to avoid paying the producers millions of dollars.
The trio filed suit against the company and Jashni in Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday — eight days after Legendary filed a complaint for declaratory relief, alleging that Lin, Lee and Davison had threatened to sue Legendary for exercising its option to remove the producers in December.
The cross-complaint alleges breaches of oral contract and implied agreement, promissory fraud and unjust enrichment and seeks a jury trial. It also seeks “millions of dollars” for breach of Legendary’s agreement to pay fixed and contingent compensation.
A spokesman for Legendary had no comment.
Legendary’s complaint said the trio’s efforts had consisted only of introducing a screenwriter and providing contributing notes that were not used. Legendary asserted that the compensation for all three under the agreement is limited to a $25,000 development fee.
But the counterclaim alleges that Legendary had “pleaded” with Lin and Lee in 2009 to develop “Godzilla” and obtain the rights from Toho, with Jashni promising in writing, “You know you and your partners will be well treated throughout.”
The counterclaim asserts that the trio relied on that 2009 pledge and spent the next several years selecting screenwriters, developing the story, characters and screenplay and readying the movie for production. It also asserts that Legendary made an oral agreement in 2010 to pay the three producers a $25,000 development fee, fixed compensation of $1.3 million and contingent compensation of 3% of first-dollar gross receipts.
According to the counterclaim, the trio assisted Legendary in 2009 and early 2010 in obtaining the “Godzilla” rights from Japan’s Toho Co., and Jashni sent the producers an email thanking them “for your help getting things to this place — now to the actual making of the movie.”
The counterclaim asserts that in March 2011, Legendary sent the producers a draft agreement covering their producing activities that was never signed, leading to the assertion that the arbitration provision is not enforceable.
“Apparently, Legendary’s idea of treating the producers who brought them ‘Godzilla’ well included concocting a scheme to force them off the project, depriving them of their screen credit and substantial fixed and backend compensation in order to keep more of the money and to aggrandize themselves,” the action said.
Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Jashni remain as producers, along with Brian Rogers. Lin and Lee had been included as producers since the original announcement in 2010 in which Legendary also said “Godzilla” would be produced under its co-production and co-financing deal with Warner Bros.
“Godzilla” is set for a March start of production, with Warner Bros. having set a May 16, 2014, release and promising that the movie will return to “its epic roots with a gritty, realistic actioner.” Gareth Edwards directs from a screenplay by David Callaham, David S. Goyer and Max Borenstein with a rewrite by Frank Darabont.
Legendary had announced in March 2011 that it had closed the rights deal for “Godzilla” with Toho, which has overseen more than 25 “Godzilla” films.
Lin is a producer on the “Sherlock Holmes” films and “Gangster Squad.” He’s partnered with Lee on “Lego” and a remake of Stephen King’s “It.” Lee is working on an “Oldboy” remake for FilmDistrict.
Lin and Lee have first-look deals at Warner Bros.
The counterclaim was filed by Larry Stein. David Fox of Myman Abell represents Lin, and Rick Genow of Stone Meyer represents Lee and Davison.