LOS ANGELES (CN) – Film studio Alcon Entertainment sued French auto company Automobiles Peugeot Thursday for failing to spend $40 million to promote “Blade Runner 2049” in exchange for prime placement of its auto trademark in the film.
Alcon says the 2017 sequel to the now-classic 1982 film “Blade Runner” took more than six years and massive financial investment to produce. It went on to gross over $260 million at the box office.
The studio began running an auction in April 2016 for auto product placement deals and narrowed down their choice a month later to two bids, including one from Peugeot.
After a decline in global auto sales sparked early 1990s financial troubles, the auto company planned a 2016 revamp that centered on rebuilding its brand-name worldwide.
Peugeot’s product placement advertising deal with Alcon, in which a Peugeot car would feature in various scenes from the film, was part of the company’s resurgence strategy.
Alcon had two savory produce placement bids, including a $16 million bid, but ultimately settled on Peugeot’s proposed $750,000 fee since it came with a commitment that the automaker would spend as much as $40 million on a promotional campaign for the film.
The so-called “media spend,” not paid directly to a film studio, is typical for product placement deals and covers advertisement costs on television, radio and other media platforms.
The Los Angeles-based movie studio said in its 132-page complaint that it can attract such a high product placement fee because sophisticated contemporary media consumers are better influenced when a product ad flows organically into the scene of a film.
The companies settled on a binding agreement to place Peugeot’s trademark design across three, four-second scenes in the film, which included a hologram depiction of the design and a Peugeot flying car – called a “spinner” in the film – used by K, the character played in the film by Canadian actor Ryan Gosling.
But both companies couldn’t agree on the exact creative direction of the product placement and their promotional agreement ultimately crumbled.
Alcon said in their complaint that the scuttled ad deal hurt the film’s success at the box office.
“Peugeot never executed any promotion and the Picture undoubtedly suffered for it,” the complaint said, adding that the French car company should have led promotion of the film’s narrative on all media formats.
Isabel Salas Mendez, a France-based Peugeot employee who negotiated product placement agreements with Alcon, is also a named defendant.
Alcon said Mendez failed to secure a financial commitment from Peugeot during negotiations because she didn’t want to risk her own “internal corporate political capital,” the complaint said, adding that Mendez’s actions were “bad faith manipulations.”
Alcon seeks $30.5 million in damages plus interest from Peugeot for breaching the contract and even refusing to pay the product placement fee.
The studio, represented by Edward Muir Anderson of Anderson Yeh, also wants a judge to order the company to pay their attorneys’ fees.
A Peugeot spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The studio’s other film credits include The Blind Side, Dolphin Tale, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Book of Eli and The Wicker Man.