Lionsgate battling distributor over 'Saw 3D'

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Lionsgate battling distributor over 'Saw 3D'

Wed Sep 29, 2010 @ 10:16AM PST

By Eriq Gardner

500x_saw_3d As Lionsgate prepares to release the next chapter in its lucrative "Saw" franchise, the studio is dealing with a nightmare situation involving one of its European distributors.

Yesterday, Lionsgate went to a California judge seeking declaratory relief against Belgium-based distributor Les Films de l'Elysee. The defendant claims it has the right to distribute "Saw 3D" in various northeast European countries. Lionsgate begs to differ.

According to the complaint, Lionsgate approached Les Films de l'Elysee in July about the possibility of distributing "Saw 3D." But there was a catch.

Lionsgate allegedly wanted its distributor to provide an audit of earlier "Saw" films it had released. The studio was also concerned about its distributors' pricing of the films for DVD and Blu-Ray.

On July 27, Lionsgate says it sent over a draft written agreement "for the purpose of assisting in the parties' negotiations concerning the terms of the proposed exclusive license for the Picture."

No answer came back, according to the complaint, so Lionsgate sent over the document a second time. It says there was still no answer until last week.

At that point, Les Films de l'Elysee allegedly demanded changes to the terms, including control over DVD and Blu-Ray pricing. The next day, Lionsgate allegedly responded, insisting upon its position. The distributor then allegedly claimed that it already had an enforceable contract giving it the right to release the picture in its territory. 

Lionsgate is disputing this. "Saw 3D" is scheduled to be released in October, but who knows whether audiences in countries including Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg will get to see it. 

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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