Fight Over Rights to George R.R. Martin Novel

     OMAHA (CN) – A film production company claims in court that it lost more than $1 million in outside investment when a partner backed out of a deal to make a movie based on George R.R. Martin’s novella “The Skin Trade.”
     Panthera Entertainment and its principals Edward Jarzobski and Matt Flynn sued Mike the Pike Productions and Mark B. Newbauer on Oct. 9 in Douglas County Court.
     Martin is a wildly best-selling author, whose “Song of Ice and Fire” series of novels has been turned into the equally popular “Game of Thrones” TV Show.
     In the 5-page lawsuit, Panthera claims it entered into a deal with Newbauer dba Mike the Pike Productions in the summer of 2013. Panthera was to secure funds for the project, according to the complaint.
     Under the contract, producers Edward Jarzobski and Matt Flynn, acting on behalf of Panthera, “had the exclusive right to fund ‘The Skin Trade,’ and defendants had an obligation to honor such an agreement,” the complaint states.
     Jarzobski and Flynn this year were authorized to work as executive producers and began securing financing for the film, they say. They claim to have obtained offers of $600,000 to $1 million, with the prospect of acquiring matching funds up to $10 million.
     But they say Newbauer has cut off communications with them, and that they have been removed as producers from a listing for the project on the industry website imdb.com.
     On Aug. 7, the plaintiffs say Newbauer announced via social media that he had secured “a newly negotiated acquisition and development on a new media channel.”
     When Panthera’s attorney pressed him for information, Newbauer denied that such a deal existed, according to the complaint.
     But on Sept. 15, Newbauer sent a check for $5,000 to Jarzobski, and a letter stating, “we will wipe the slate clean, clearing any obligations or otherwise between us,” according to the complaint.
     Newbauer’s listing on imdb.com, checked this morning, lists “The Skin Trade” as one of his projects, “in development.”
     Mike the Pike Productions was administratively dissolved by the Indiana Secretary of State in 2013, but continues operations in Arizona under the same name.
     “The Skin Trade” follows the story of private investigator Randi Wade as she investigates a series of savage murders committed by a werewolf.
     The novella was released by Orion Publishing in 1989 as part of an anthology titled “Dark Visions,” which featured horror stories by Martin, Stephen King and Dan Simmons.
     “The Skin Trade” was adapted into a comic book series by Avatar Press in 2013.
     Panthera seeks damages for breach of contract, anticipatory breach of contract and fraudulent misrepresentation.
     It is represented by Christopher Curzon with Smith, Gardner, Slusky, Lazer, Pohren & Rogers, of Omaha.

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