LOS ANGELES, Calif., April 21, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — Director and documentarian Morgan Spurlock filed a lawsuit against Broad Green Pictures claiming Broad Green Pictures promised to put up $5 million for a NASCAR documentary, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Broad Green Pictures is alleged to have represented the project was given a ‘go,’ and a written agreement between BGP and Spurlock’s production company Warrior Poets Inc. was executed, funds were provided to start initial production and a draft press release was ready to announce the project. But then in January, at the halfway point, BGP allegedly bowed out.
“For Mr. Spurlock, as a lifelong NASCAR enthusiast, BGP’s ‘green-lighting’ of the documentary was the opportunity of a lifetime,” states the complaint. “Although he had already obtained substantial success and renown for his prior documentary work including as the director, writer and star of the Oscar-nominated documentary ‘Super Size Me,’ the documentary would be his greatest work yet, providing a never-before-seen look into the world of NASCAR, with unfettered access to the sport and drivers.”
Broad Green Pictures, founded by billionaire hedge fund manager Gabriel Hammond and his brother Daniel, made a splash at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival by buying up rights to several films. “As we learned about the industry, we realized we needed to be able to put movies on the screen in the way the filmmaker wanted,” said Gabriel at the time.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Victor Moyers, the company’s president of productions, engaged discussions with Spurlock last September.
According to the lawsuit, “Mr. Moyers represented to Mr. Spurlock (1) that BGP’s principals had already ‘approved’ the financing of the documentary’s $5 million budget and were fully on board with the project, (2) that the documentary had been ‘green-lit’ by BGP’s principals, and (3) that ‘we are making the movie.'”
That, plus a $50,000 advance to film scenes at a Nov. 21 NASCAR Homestead-Miami event, was enough to start the engines of the filmmaking process. The complaint says Spurlock and others had worked with NASCAR drivers to get unprecedented access that would allow them to detail their lives, their families and their races.
The hope was that with over 75 million NASCAR fans out there, the documentary would become a commercial hit. And before it was shut down, filmmakers spent hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Spurlock claims Broad Green sent a written agreement spelling out the financial terms of the production.
“The fact that the parties understood they had reached a binding agreement on the material terms of their relationship was expressly reflected and confirmed in email correspondence,” states the complaint authored by attorney Michael Weinsten at Lavely & Singer, later adding, “Critically, at no point did anyone from BGP ever respond to the above communications by stating that there was no agreement or by directing Warrior Poets to cease production on the documentary.”
The Hollywood Reporter reports that Spurlock says his production team was ‘caught off guard’ then when on Jan. 21, Gabriel Hammond conveyed the news that Broad Green was pulling out. “Even more shocking was the reason given by Mr. Hammond — namely, that the documentary was being pulled because (1) it had never been green-lit and (2) it had never been approved by BGP.”
Spurlock’s company says it was left with an unfinished film, that it was too late to obtain a new financier and distributor and has been saddled with the bill for the salaries of the above-the-line production crew.
Warrior Poets Inc. is suing for breach of contract, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, promissory estoppel and quantum meruit and demanding $2 million for each of these causes of action. Broad Green hasn’t yet responded to a request for comment.