LOS ANGELES (CN) - A man who invested $100,000 in a science fiction movie claims in court that producers changed the film's title and defrauded him of his ownership stake and credit.
Paul Conwell sued producer Spencer Proffer, his company Morling Manor Music, and ARC Entertainment, Kickstart Productions and Meteor 17 Music and Media, in Superior Court.
Conwell claims he agreed to invest $100,000 so writers Stan Chervin and Jim Strain could rewrite a script about child space cadets, then titled "Space Camp," after Proffer claimed Universal Studios was interested in turning the property into a franchise.
Proffer told him that for $100,000 in development money he would get a 50 percent stake in the screenplay and an even split of income, back-end revenue and royalties, Conwell says in the lawsuit.
He claims he also secured in writing an agreement for associate producer credit, a salary of $30,000 and a 20 percent cut of income, back end-participation and royalties.
But Conwell claims Universal's interest in the project waned after a series of rewrites. So Proffer pitched the project to ARC, founded by the Walton family to produce family friendly films, Conwell says.
Sean McNamara was hired to direct the project, Conwell says, but Proffer told the plaintiff he could not make the film and was going to sell it.
"In fact, Proffer had proceeded with the project, without informing plaintiff but with a rewrite by Sean McNamara," the complaint states. "The project was renamed 'Space Warriors' with much of the same plot elements and character names from the original script by the writers, which had been developed with plaintiff's $100,000.00 investment."
Conwell claims that ARC, Meteor and Kickstart finished and released the film, crediting Chervin, Strain and McNamara as writers. McNamara and Proffer are credited as director and executive producer, respectively, according to the lawsuit.
The film was shown in theaters, sold by retailers and aired on the Hallmark television channel, Conwell says. He claims Proffer earned money from the screenplay and underlying rights, but Conwell says he was never paid a dime.
He wants his $100,000 back, his unpaid salary and the other rights under his agreement honored. He also seeks an accounting, an injunction against "Space Warriors," and costs for breach of contract, interference, fraud and breach of fiduciary duty.
Conwell is represented by Michael Harris of Rodgers & Harris.
Proffer said Conwell's court filing has "absolutely no merit whatsoever," and his attorney would respond to it.