A judge Tuesday gave a film production company more time to try and make a payment toward a $1 million-plus settlement of a lawsuit filed by Kevin Costner, who alleged the firm used his name to sell a film at the Shanghai International Film Festival in 2016, then took him off the project without compensating him.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Holly Kendig said that rather than enter a judgment Tuesday against Kylin Pictures Inc. that could be meaningless, she was giving the company a chance to pay a $785,000 installment on the settlement with money invested in China. Kylin attorney Bennett Bigman said his client expects to be able to turn over that much by Feb. 15 once the funds are released on Kylin’s behalf by the Chinese government, which he said is waiting for a more favorable exchange rate.
Kendig, who rescheduled Tuesday’s judgment hearing until Feb. 22, said in jest that Kylin may want to get help from a higher authority.
“Maybe you ought to talk with President Trump, he seems to have his way with the Chinese,” Kendig said.
The two sides reached a conditional settlement in September, but Kylin’s lawyers stated in their court papers that a complete resolution still required the completion of some remaining terms. Costner, along with production company Treehouse Films LLC, sued Kylin Pictures in October 2016, alleging breach of contract. The actor and his lawyers maintains the settlement agreement is for $1.4 million, but Bigman said his client is willing to pay $1,085,000, plus interest, and that full payment would be made by June.
Kendig said that had she granted a judgment against Kylin Tuesday, it would only have been for $1,085,000 because Costner’s court papers did not sufficiently state why he is entitled to $1.4 million.
Kendig added, however, that she does believe Costner is entitled to be paid and that she understands his frustration with the delays in getting the money flowing from China.
“This whole Chinese thing is pretty bizarre if you ask me,” Kendig said.
According to the complaint, Treehouse and Beacon Films signed a deal in April 2016 to produce “Shanghai Sojourners,” the story of a Chinese woman who falls in love with a Jewish man during World War II and tries to help him escape the Nazis.
According to the lawsuit, Costner and producer Armyan Bernstein were set to receive a combined producing fee of $3 million. On top of that, Treehouse and Beacon were to receive a $1 million overhead fee and a share of profits, the complaint alleged.
During the Shanghai International Film Festival in the summer of 2016, Kylin promoted the film and highlighted the involvement of Costner and Treehouse, resulting in investments in the film. According to the suit, Kylin had already decided to fire Costner and Treehouse, but waited until August 2016 to tell them.
Kendig dismissed the lawsuit’s fraud claim in 2017 because Costner’s attorneys could not show Kylin had any duty to the plaintiffs to disclose an alleged intent by the company to later repudiate the agreement.
–City News Service