Must be nice to be fought over... must be nice to be wanted so badly that the people fighting over you are willing to take each other to court for the right to own you...
I first read about this yesterday but forgot to post an entry about it.
I reported last week that Lionsgate had purchased rights to Push, Lee Daniels' adaptation of Sapphire's novel of the same name, for roughly $5.5 Million - the heftiest Sundance acquisition this year. If you recall, both Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry were said to have committed themselves to ensuring the film's release.
Well... not so fast my friends...
The story, according to The Hollywood Reporter, goes as follows:
Lionsgate and the Weinstein Co. on Wednesday filed dueling lawsuits against each other over Sundance hit "Push," throwing into question who owns distribution rights to the urban drama.
In its suit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Lionsgate claims that TWC does not have "any right, title or interest" in the picture, which won both the grand jury and audience drama prizes in Park City, and is seeking a judge's declaration to that effect.
Several hours after word surfaced of the Lionsgate suit, Weinstein Co. reps said the company had filed its own suit against both Lionsgate and sales agent Cinetic Media for breach of contract and inducing breach of contract. TWC argues there was a contract in place for the New York company to buy the movie.
"TWC reached a firm agreement for the rights to "Push." Behind their backs Cinetic Media tried to make a better deal with Lionsgate. Lionsgate was well aware of the TWC contract but went forward anyway," said Bert Fields, who along with David Boies is repping TWC.
The moves were seen as an attempt by each side to stake out jurisdiction. Often in cases featuring identical parties and issues, the case will be heard in the venue where the first lawsuit is filed; this instance is murkier, however, since both lawsuits were filed on the same day.
So, there ya have it! What all this tells me is that all the reports one usually reads about film acquisitions at festivals like Sundance should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt.
So, don't believe everything you read. Reports of big sales like those we read about Push and others, are likely released by the purchasing companies a bit prematurely, with the intent to stimulate conversation, and in turn, excitement from people like us. And they are usually successful, since we did, and still are talking about both films! Who knows just how accurate some of those figures really are?
However, frankly, I'd rather have Push in Lionsgate's hands. The Weinsteins have a history of buying films and sitting on them - like a child getting excited about a new toy, but then quickly forgetting it exists when a new one arrives.
But, as long as the film is eventually released, I'll be pleased.