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Saturday, July 13, 2024 | Back issues
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Man Claims He Was Cheated in Sale|of 3-D Technology Used in ‘Avatar’

(CN) - A group of young Hollywood insiders, including actor Giovanni Ribisi and the son of Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences president Tom Sherak, conspired to cheat a former friend and colleague of proceeds from the sale of 3-D technology used in the movie "Avatar," the man claims in Los Angeles Superior Court.

David Phillips claims that after he spent more than $100,000 of his own money, set up more than 160 meetings and demonstrated the 3-D technology eventually used in "Avatar" to its producer, (nonparty) Jon Landau, he was offered a mere $30,000 to walk away from what he believed would be millions of dollars in commissions.

Phillips, who says he worked his way up from a $200-a-week job in the mailroom of International Creative Management to being lauded by The Hollywood Reporter as one of Hollywood's 35 most promising young executives, seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

In his complaint, Phillips said he became intrigued with the potential of 3-D after his involvement in developing and marketing such Hollywood films as "Fifty First Kisses," "Hoop Dreams," and "While You Were Sleeping."

He says his interest intensified after he met the staff of Kerner Technologies, a spinoff of George Lucas's Industrial Light and Magic, which was developing and improving 3-D technology.

Phillips, who by then had formed D-Mented Entertainment with William Sherak, says he entered into a marketing services and finders fee agreement with Kerner to promote its technical work.

Phillips said he was promised 18 percent of receipts derived from his development and consulting work on behalf of the company and an additional 25 percent of receipts from licensing Kerner's technology or other intellectual property rights.

Phillips says his efforts depended almost entirely on contacts in the industry and oral agreements among then-friends, which included Ribisi, an actor who has appeared in "Gone in 60 Seconds," "Saving Private Ryan" and, most recently, "Avatar."

Another former friend now defendant is J. Christopher Mallick, an Internet entrepreneur who founded, then sold, his own Internet billing company and became a movie producer, Phillips says.

It was this group, later formalized as StereoD, which Phillips says asked him to demonstrate the 3-D VDX technology developed by Izumi, of Japan, to Landau.

He claims that Kerner Technology, with whom he was working, did not own the technology, but he says he was given oral assurance that he would be "taken care of."

Phillips claims that it was only through his efforts that StereoD received the visual effects technology credit on "Avatar."

He claims the defendants conspired to make him believe he would receive a commission on the Izumi deal and an equity share of StereoD.

He seeks damages for breach of oral partnership, breach of oral contract, conspiracy to breach fiduciary duty, breach of fiduciary duty, promissory fraud, breach of implied contract, intentional interference with contractual relations, and other charges.

The four defendants are William Sherack, Mallick, Ribisi, and StereoD LLC.

Phillips is represented by Roderick Dorman with Hennigan, Bennett & Dorman, and Ronald Dinicola in Los Angeles.

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