Fri Apr 23, 2010 @ 12:18AM PST
By Matthew Belloni
EXCLUSIVE: A new lawsuit claims Paramount shortchanged an investor in Oscar winner "No Country for Old Men" by giving Tommy Lee Jones a fat $15 million payout.
Marathon Funding, an investment vehicle that backed "No Country" distributor Paramount Vantage, says its arrangement with the now-shuttered specialty division entitled it to 25% of "net distribution revenue" from the 2007 best picture winner. But on its March profit statement, Marathon says it noticed an unusual $3.75 mil deduction, which Paramount said was 25% of a $15 million payment it was required to make to "No Country" co-star Jones.
"Charging Marathon with 25% of this extra $15 mil payment to Jones constituted a willful breach of its fiduciary duty to Marathon," the lawsuit alleges.
Why would a studio give an actor in a 2-year-old movie a massive one-time payment above and beyond his usual profit participation?
Paramount didn't immediately respond to a request for comment (UPDATE: A spokesperson says Par isn't commenting) but Jones sued the studio in September 2008 saying he was owed at least $10 million for his work on the Vantage/Miramax co-production. The suit claimed Jones received a lesser up-front fee in return for "significant box-office bonuses and 'back-end' compensation."
The new Marathon lawsuit doesn't specifically connect the alleged $15 mil payout to the previous Jones suit. But it says "Paramount was required to make said payment to Jones, notwithstanding Paramount's objections and claims that the extra $15 mil payment was not due to Jones." Sounds like a court judgment or lawsuit settlement, right?
The suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court by Hillel Chodos, seeks $3.75 on unspecified causes of action.