Weinstein Co. Sued Over Competing Oscar Bait

MANHATTAN (CN) – Taking the producers of a Matthew McConaughey film to court, a distributor claims that “Gold” debuted one day too early, breaching a deal to release the movie a full week after another star-powered title, “The Founder” with Michael Keaton.

A fictionalized account of Ray Kroc’s acquisition of McDonald’s in 1954, “The Founder” was released nationwide on Jan. 20. It details Kroc’s discovery of the McDonald’s restaurant and how he manipulated the McDonald brothers into expanding their humble hamburger chain into a nationwide fast-food giant.

The movie has been well received by critics and so far has grossed more than $15 million worldwide.

“Gold” meanwhile is loosely based on the 1993 Bre-X mining scandal. McConaughey stars as a struggling businessman who manipulates indigenous workers to help him find gold in the Indonesian jungles. It was released on Jan. 27 to mixed reviews and has grossed more than $3 million.

Speedee Distribution filed the complaint Monday in New York County Supreme Court against Gold’s producers at the Weinstein Co.

It says Weinstein had agreed to co-finance “The Founder” as part of a contract in February 2015.

As part of the agreement, Weinstein allegedly agreed to hold off releasing any other movie within the United States for a week before or after release of “The Founder.”

Both films had a limited theatrical release within two weeks of each other in December 2016, but their nationwide release missed the one-week blackout window by one day.

Speedee says this violated the co-financing agreement.

“’The Founder’ and ‘Gold’ both appeal to the same audience … and have been marketed to potential moviegoers in the same way on TV, print and online, conveying an effective binary choice to the viewer: to see one movie or the other,” the complaint states.

Both films were advertised with quotes from critics lauding the respective performances and that each film was based on a true story.

The December 2016 limited releases on both movies were intended to meet the qualifying deadline for the 2017 Academy Awards. McConaughey and Keaton both have already won Oscars for their roles in “Dallas Buyer’s Club” and “Birdman,” respectively.

Speedee, which primarily financed “The Founder’s” $25 million budget, says Weinstein now owes it more than $15 million in post-production prints and advertisement expenditures.

It claims to have first found out about the planned Jan. 27 release of “Gold” in November 2016, and that it warned Weinstein at the time about the potential contract breach.

James Janowitz, an attorney for Speedee at Pryor Cashman, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Publicists at Weinstein have not returned an email seeking comment. The studio is named after co-founders Harvey and Bob Weinstein. The brothers had previously founded Miramax Films.

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