Michael Moore sues Weinsteins over Fahrenheit 9/11

Mon Feb 7, 2011 7:43pm EST
 
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By Matthew Belloni

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Filmmaker Michael Moore has sued Harvey and Bob Weinstein, accusing the brothers of "Hollywood accounting tricks" and "financial deception" that cheated him out of at least $2.7 million in profits from the hit documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11."

In a lawsuit filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Moore says the Weinsteins and an affiliated entity called the Fellowship Adventure Group agreed to split profits from the film 50-50 but then diverted monies to hide them from Moore.

The suit for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and constructive fraud claims that in 2008 Moore conducted an audit of the 2004 film, which grossed $222 million worldwide, and "discovered substantial irregularities in the accounting" that resulted in a "gross underpayment to (Moore)."

Those irregularities include an alleged secret deduction of $2.5 million in revenue that the Weinsteins 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 of $1.2 million, "despite the fact that (the Weinsteins) did not incur the advertising costs and the (deal) did not permit (them) 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.

Weinstein lawyer Bert Fields dismissed the claims in an interview.

"The Weinsteins have paid everything they should have paid," Fields told The Hollywood Reporter. "Mr. Moore has received a huge amount of money from this film and we believe he is overreaching. He should be ashamed of himself."

Stein countered that Fields and the Weinsteins should be ashamed of themselves, and that this is the first time Moore has ever sued someone in his 20-year career.

"That should be some indication about how serious this is. It's very sad it had to come to this. Michael believes the Weinsteins have been a force for good when it comes to championing independent film -- but that does not give them the right to violate a contract and take money that isn't theirs. The $2.7 million is just the floor of what we believe is owed. When this goes to discovery I wouldn't be surprised if the amount of what was taken goes much, much higher."

 
<p>Director Michael Moore walks into a theater during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah January 20, 2011. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>