A production company co-founded by actor-director Mel Gibson sued a group of production companies Monday, alleging they interfered with his ability to approve the final cut of the upcoming film, “The Professor and the Madman.”

The suit filed on behalf of Icon Productions, which Gibson and producing partner Bruce Davey founded in August 1989, names as defendants Voltage Productions LLC, Voltage Pictures LLC, Christchurch Productions DAC and Nicolas Chartier, CEO of Voltage and a stakeholder in Christchurch.

“The picture was and is a labor of love for … Gibson and Davey, and the picture’s director, Farhad Safinia,” the Los Angeles Superior Court suit says.

The defendants could not immediately be reached for comment on the suit, which alleges breach of contract and fraud and seeks unspecified damages and a court order that the agreement between Icon and the defendants be terminated.

Gibson is cast in the film as a professor who began compiling the Oxford English dictionary in 1957. Sean Penn co-stars as an insane asylum inmate who submitted more than 10,000 entries to the dictionary.

Production began on the film last fall, but the defendants failed to provide a final budget, according to the suit, which also alleges they refused to allow critical scenes to be shot in part in Oxford, England, and prevented Safinia “from producing a cut of the film to be considered by Mr. Gibson in his selection of the final cut.”

Icon asked the defendants to correct their alleged breaches, but they “simply ignored plaintiffs’ notices,” according to the suit. The end result is a film that is “inconsistent with the approved script,” the complaint says.

The defendants screened an unapproved cut at the Cannes Film Festival and are doing the same in Los Angeles County, which, the suit alleges, “violates Mr. Gibson’s ultimate right to select the final cut of the picture.”

–City News Service

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