×

Warren Beatty Sought Wider ‘Rules Don’t Apply’ Release Despite Grim Test Screenings

Lots of films lose money, but relatively few result in lawsuits from disgruntled investors.

“Rules Don’t Apply,” however, is that special kind of flop. In December, financier Arnon Milchan filed suit against Warren Beatty and a high-profile cast of investors, seeking $18 million in unrecouped distribution costs.

Milchan — through his companies Regency Entertainment and Monarchy Enterprises — has now elaborated on his allegations in an amended complaint. The suit alleges that Beatty was obsessed with getting his long-planned Howard Hughes film on as many screens as possible, and was undeterred by contrary advice and bad preview screenings.

According to the suit, Beatty and his investors wanted the right to set the film’s distribution and marketing budget, with the cost borne by Milchan. Milchan objected to such a “one-sided deal,” and instead agreed to front the distribution costs if the investors would pledge to guarantee any losses. Beatty and the investors — who included Ron Burkle, Terry Semel, Steve Bing, Jeffrey Soros, and Brett Ratner — agreed to the deal.

According to the suit, two test screenings were unfavorable. Regency, in consultation with distribution executives at Fox, recommended a limited release, which could go wider if necessary. Beatty would not hear of it.

“Beatty and certain other investors refused to accept the results of the test screenings and insisted that the Picture be released widely on as many screens as possible,” the lawsuit states.

In an effort to satisfy Beatty, Regency came up with a release that would cost $12-14 million in P&A costs. But the investors rejected that proposal and insisted on increasing the budget to $20 million, according to the suit. The investors ultimately approved a $21 million plan, which included $250,000 for an awards campaign.

In September 2016, Bing, Ratner and Beatty insisted on increasing the budget for the awards campaign by $1.25 million, according to the suit.

Two months later, as the release approached, Bing, Ratner and Beatty insisted on expanding the opening from 1,800 screens to 2,300 screens. Regency advised that that would increase costs by $700,000, but the investors approved the additional expense. In the end, the film’s P&A budget topped out at $23.2 million. The production cost was $31.1 million, according to the suit.

The film opened on Thanksgiving weekend of 2016 on 2,382 screens, and grossed $3.9 million worldwide.

Regency now contends it is owed at least $19 million, and that Beatty and most of the other investors have refused to make good on their guarantees.

More Biz

  • US actor Kevin Spacey (C) is

    Kevin Spacey Sexual Assault Case Dropped in Nantucket

    Nantucket prosecutors have dropped a sexual assault case against actor Kevin Spacey, citing the “unavailability” of the complaining witness. Spacey had been accused of groping an 18-year-old busboy at the Club Car restaurant in July 2016. He was charged with indecent sexual assault, and a trial was set to be held in the fall. However, [...]

  • Plume of black smoke rising from

    Universal Music Updates Staff on Fire Damage in Internal Memo (Read)

    Ahead of an expected motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed last month by several artists over damage in the 2008 fire that destroyed hundreds of thousands of master recordings, according to the New York Times, the company’s chief archivist, Pat Kraus, issued a memo to the staff that has been obtained by Variety. While the [...]

  • CAA Signs Jay Shetty

    CAA Signs Jay Shetty

    CAA has signed award-winning host, storyteller, and viral content creator Jay Shetty for representation. Shetty’s videos have been viewed more than 4.5 billion times and he’s amassed more than 30 million followers across social media, becoming Facebook’s No. 1 creator on the platform with 24 million followers. After graduating university in the U.K., Shetty moved [...]

  • gordon-ramsay-masterclass-review

    Gordon Ramsay and Studio Ramsay Return to WME for Representation

    Superstar TV chef Gordon Ramsay has returned to WME for representation after eight years with CAA. WME will represent Ramsay and his production company, Studio Ramsay, in all areas. Ramsay is one of the most recognizable names in the culinary world after establishing himself as a TV star in the U.K. and U.S. Studio Ramsay [...]

  • Jim Gosnell

    APA Seeks to Move Assistant's Harassment Suit to Arbitration

    APA filed a motion Tuesday seeking to force an ex-assistant to arbitrate her claims of sexual harassment and verbal abuse. The motion, filed in L.A. Superior Court, accuses the former assistant of fabricating texts and emails in order to accuse the agency of fostering a “toxic, pervasive and sexually abusive environment.” The assistant, known in [...]

  • UTA

    UTA Launches Sports Division With LeBron James' Agent

    UTA is diving into the sports arena through an investment in Klutch Sports Group, the agency that represents LeBron James and other stars. Klutch Sports founder Rich Paul will serve as head of the newly created UTA Sports wing in addition to running his own banner. Paul launched Klutch Sports in 2012 in Cleveland. UTA [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content