A producer of “Escape Plan,” the 2013 prison break movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, has filed a lawsuit claiming she was forced off the project and denied the opportunity to produce the sequel.
Robbie Brenner filed suit in L.A. Superior Court on Tuesday alleging that she was “pushed aside” by producers Randall Emmett and George Furla. Brenner alleges that she has not received any backend participation on the original film, though it grossed $135 million worldwide. She also contends that Emmett/Furla are moving ahead on “Escape Plan 2” without her, in violation of her contract.
Brenner, a former Relativity Media executive and a producer of “Dallas Buyers Club,” says she first set up the project with Summit Entertainment in 2008 under the working title “The Tomb.” In 2010, she said she met Emmett on a plane, where they discussed projects each had in development. Emmett expressed interest in the prison break film, and asked to sign on to co-produce and co-finance it, according to the suit.
Soon afterward, Brenner says that Summit’s interest in the film waned and Emmett/Furla offered to step in and fully finance it. Summit stayed on as the domestic distributor and international sales agent.
“Thus, Emmett and Furla fell into a perfect opportunity for themselves and their business model,” Brenner alleges. “In a business where most projects die on the vine during development, Emmett and Furla were handed an almost fully developed and readily financeable project, wrapped up in a nice package with a bow on top.”
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According to Brenner, Summit conditioned its continued involvement on Brenner’s approval, and Brenner negotiated a deal under which she would be primarily responsible for creative decisions. She says that she assisted in hiring Stallone and director Mikael Hafstrom, but that she soon began to clash with the other producers.
“Emmett and Furla did not act in a collaborative manner and did not allow Brenner the creative autonomy they had promised,” her lawsuit states. “Instead, Emmett was belligerent toward Brenner, dictated creative and other requirements for the Project and engaged in other bullying tactics.”
Brenner alleges that Emmett/Furla turned the project into one of their “programmer” films, which she defines as “commercial projects which follow a simple and often-used template for the film’s story, characters and financial plan.” She also says that a screenwriter opted to use a pseudonym because he was embarrassed by the final product.
Brenner says that she agreed to step aside and allow Emmett/Furla to the produce the project as they saw fit, but got an agreement that she would be paid $400,000 plus backend participation, and would be giving right of first negotiation to produce any sequels.
“Essentially, Emmett and Furla were successful in pushing aside Brenner from her own project, despite the fact that she was the one who brought them into the Project in the first place,” Brenner alleges.
Brenner says she was paid the $400,000, but never received the backend participation. She alleges that Emmett and Furla each paid themselves $1 million in fixed fees. She also says she only recently learned that “Escape Plan 2” was going into production.
On Jan. 17, she sent an email to Emmett:
“I know EP 2 is moving forward,” she wrote. “As you know this all started with me and I went quietly into the night last time when everyone made far more than me. I have a deal and expect it will be honored.”
She says Emmett offered her $100,000, but refused to engage in serious negotiations. Brenner alleges that she is owed $400,000, at least, in producer’s fees for “Escape Plan 2.” She also claims Emmett/Furla is already working on “Escape Plan 3” without her.
Emmett/Furla did not return a call seeking comment.