The Guardian are reporting that political documentary filmmaker Michael Moore is in the process of suing the Weinstein Brothers in a profit row surrounding the film Fahrenheit 9/11. The lawsuit filed at the Los Angeles County Court on Monday for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and constructive fraud claims concerns the 50% of the documentary's $200 million box office gross that Moore claims almost $3 million of which were hidden by the studio heads and an affiliate firm entitled The Fellowship Adventure Group. Moore claims the Weinsteins used Hollywood accounting tricks in order to cause financial deception. Moore's lawyer Larry Stein said after months of talking over the issue with the Weinsteins and getting nowhere;
"An independent auditor came in and discovered that the Weinsteins had re-routed at least $2.7m that belonged to Michael Moore from Fahrenheit 9/11,"The Hollywood Reporter have the details in full, but here's the significant part regarding the so called financial deception;
An alleged secret deduction of $2.5 million in revenue that the Weinstiens claimed was paid to acquire an interest owned in the film by a predecessor company called Icon Entertainment International; a 7.5% override fee on advertising costs in the amount of $1.2 million, despite the fact that did not incur the advertising costs and the did not permit to deduct these costs; as well as additional improper deductions of fees paid to distribution consultants, accountants, residuals, foreign taxes and travel expenses, including what Moore says are the grossly excessive and unreasonable costs of hiring a private jet to carry a single passenger to Europe.Stein went on to mention how this was the first time that Moore has had to go to such measures in his twenty year career in a bid to emphasize the seriousness of the situation. The Weinstein's lawyer Bert Fields responded with the following;
The Weinsteins have paid everything they should have paid. Mr. Moore has received a huge amount of money from this film and we believe he is overreaching. He should be ashamed of himself. Weve had a number of meetings and have kicked around their arguments and ours, and they have a lot of problems with their claims.This news comes at an unfortunate time for Harvey Weinstein who is busy targeting Oscar success for The King's Speech and, ironically, for Moore himself who has been talking to the Weinsteins about perhaps making his first feature film in 15 years, the whole decade and a half that have passed since Canadian Bacon. The whole saga then has also no doubt put a heavy strain on the working partnership and tight friendship that Moore has shared with the producers with whom he also collaborated with on Sicko and Capitalism: A Love Story. The controversial filmmaker has praised the Weinsteins in the past for helping to promote independent films and launching them to success on the grandest stages and so this news will no doubt have come as a rather nasty surprise. You could argue that $2.7 million is mere pocket money for an already mega rich celebrity but Moore is a guy who clearly wants to represents the facts and fair is fair and what no doubt stings more is the outright betrayal. Also the $2.7 Million is only an early estimate of what Moore may be entitled to as Stein anticipates that when a full investigation takes place he wouldn't be surprised if the amount of what was taken goes much, much higher. This row could get uglier the longer it goes on especially given the fact that neither party are the type to buckle down and concede defeat.