Friday, January 13, 2012

Idaho Supreme Court Rules in Million-Dollar Flick Flap

Posted By on Fri, Jan 13, 2012 at 2:53 PM

Today’s Hollywood Reporter chronicles a unique legal battle between a film producer and director that recently played out before the Idaho Supreme Court. The case revealed a classic power struggle between financing and artistic vision. David Richards, producer of The Hayfield, about an 1867 battle between Montana settlers and a Native American tribe, sued the film's director, Randy Starkey, for what was called "utilateral" posession of the movie.

In happier days, Richards and Starkey formed Minor Miracle Productions, an Idaho company, to support their project. As producer, Richards put forth the funding while Starkey helmed the production. Their agreement was that all of the film's proceeds would be equally divided. But following production, disagreements prompted Richards to file suit against Starkey for breach of contract, accusing the director of plotting to sell interests in the film to outsiders without Richards' consent. The film wrapped in 2006, but has yet to be seen in a public premiere.

Idaho's high court ruled in Richards' favor and ordered Starkey to pay more than $1 million and surrender the copyright to the film.

The Hollywood Reporter drew ties of the ruling to a popular HBO series:

“Anybody who watched Entourage might remember the episode where fictional director Billy Walsh wants to protect his film from meddlesome producers at all costs and decides run off with the film stock.”

You can read the full court decision here.

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