×

Producer Sues Paramount Over Failure of Luke Wilson-Starrer ‘Middle Men’

The producer of the 2010 drama “Middle Men” claims that Paramount Pictures breached an agreement to properly promote and distribute the movie, and instead used it as part of a library of films to sell to top streaming services.

The lawsuit, filed by Middle Pictures on Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, also claims that Paramount failed to pay or account for profits from the movie. The lawsuit claims that the studio reaped hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from a Netflix deal for its library, but that Middle Pictures has seen little of it.

The movie, starring Luke Wilson, Giovanni Ribisi, and James Caan, is the story of the development of online credit card billing services and the birth of Internet porn. Middle Pictures’ Christopher Mallick produced and George Gallo directed. It collected less than $1 million at the domestic box office.

In the lawsuit, Middle Pictures said that the movie cost $21.5 million to produce, and it paid Paramount an additional $6.8 million to promote its release. Paramount had no financial investment in the movie, according to the lawsuit, and made “little effort” to assure its box office success. Paramount limited the movie’s release to a scant number of screens, “thereby causing it to fail at the box office and then suffer the consequential effects on subsequent revenues.”

The suit claims that the distribution was part of Paramount’s “broader strategy to freely acquire valuable content that it could later use to create packaged libraries for sale to video-on-demand and streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.”

Popular on Variety

The lawsuit contends that Paramount failed to properly account for the way it spent the $6.8 million meant for promotion and advertising, as well as the money it has received in aftermarkets. It says that Paramount owes at least $7 million from “new media” revenues. The suit makes a series of claims, including breach of contract, fraudulent inducement, and accounting.

Another claim is that Paramount engaged in self-dealing by licensing the movie at a discounted price to Epix, in which it has a 43% ownership stake.

The lawsuit was filed by Jeffrey Simon of Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett in Dallas.

A spokeswoman for Paramount did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

More Film

  • Ventana Sur

    Ventana Sur Sets 2020 Dates, a New Venue

    BERLIN —   Ventana Sur, the biggest film-TV industry event in Latin America – and bulwarked by a hugely popular Cannes Film Week hosted by Thierry Fremaux – has set dates for its 12th edition, and announced a new venue in Buenos Aires. Running Monday Nov. 30 to Friday Dec. 4, this year’s 12th Ventana [...]

  • Cannes VR

    Cannes Film Festival Plots Major Expansion to VR Program

    Cannes XR, the Marché du Film’s program dedicated to immersive and augmented reality content, is set to expand. For its second edition, Cannes XR has partnered with tech creator Positron and Brogent Technologies to introduce a new VR theater, dedicated space and competition. While keeping its 700-square meter exhibition space in the basement of Cannes’ [...]

  • The Italian Recipe

    Europe-China Co-Prod 'The Italian Recipe' Immune to Coronavirus (EXCLUSIVE)

    With production in China suffering a coronavirus-imposed slowdown, “The Italian Recipe” is one co-production between Europe and China that is poised to potentially capitalize on the resulting dearth of Chinese content. It is positioned to advance European cinema’s efforts to make inroads in China. “The Italian Recipe,” in which a famous Chinese pop singer travels [...]

  • Csaba Kael

    Hungarian Film Commissioner Csaba Kael on His Ambitious Plans for 'Hollywood on the Danube'

    Just months after assuming the role of Hungarian film commissioner, Csaba Káel has designs on revamping the film and television industries to boost content development and production, expand already formidable studio facilities and become a lynchpin for film and TV production and servicing that extends far beyond Budapest. Káel took up his post in September, [...]

  • Claire Denis attends the 32nd European

    Claire Denis and Phedon Papamichael Join Doha Film Institute's Qumra Lineup

    The Doha Film Institute has added French auteur Claire Denis and Oscar-nominated cinematographer Phedon Papamichael (“Nebraska”) to the lineup of star talent who will act as mentors for the Qumra Masters program during its upcoming Qumra event dedicated to fostering fresh Arab film fare that is opening up to TV projects. They join previously announced [...]

  • Persian Lessons Russian Cinema

    'Persian Lessons': Film Review

    In “Schindler’s List,” most of the actors spoke English, using accents to indicate their characters’ origins. In “Son of Saul,” the cast struggles to communicate in a mish-mosh of languages, as Jews of different nationalities were thrown together in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Stories about the Holocaust — so vital in trying to reconcile the horrors of the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content