CONROE, Texas (CN) – Producers and investors in the “Dallas Buyers Club” movie sued their foreign sales agent, accusing California-based Voltage Pictures of hiding overseas licensing agreements and lying about them.
Dallas Buyer’s Club LLC and producer Truth Entertainment claim Voltage Pictures and its president Nicolas Chartier concealed foreign distribution agreements and overseas sales numbers – and sent insulting messages when they asked about it.
The film, which had a budget of $5.6 million, grossed more than $28 million in U.S. sales and won two Academy Awards: best actor for Matthew McConaughey, who played Woodroof, and best supporting actor for Jared Leto.
The Texas investors say Voltage has recouped its own $3 million investment in the film, but owes them $400,000 from their $1.6 million investment, plus another $320,000 they were promised as 20 percent returns.
Truth Entertainment says its president Joe Newcomb repeatedly asked Chartier to see the foreign distribution agreements.
Chartier refused again and again, finally insulting Newcomb as a “moron.” “Can you please stop asking the same dumb stupid idiotic questions every week???” Chartier wrote in one email, according to the complaint. “Get a life! … We told you a thousand times the same thing!!!!!! You’re a moron. We got it. Now stop!!!”
After getting the distribution agreements from another source, Newcomb found they were “different than what Mr. Chartier has represented them to be” and that Voltage had not collected any money from foreign video and pay-per-view sales, according to the complaint.
“The Dallas Buyers Club” is based on the life of Ron Woodroof, a Dallas man who, after being diagnosed with AIDS in 1985, smuggled experimental AIDS drugs into Texas to treat himself and sell to other AIDS patients.
The movie might never have been made without Truth Entertainment, according to the complaint.
Financing for the film fell through in August 2010, just 10 weeks before production was to begin. McConaughey had lost 35 pounds for the role and had commitments in January that would make him unavailable, according to the complaint.
A Hollywood producer approached Newcomb about financing, and Newcomb read the script and “loved it,” and quickly raised $1.6 million, part of it by forming Dallas Buyers Club LLC, the complaint states.
The “most troubling aspect” of the deal is that “not one dollar” had been collected on foreign video or pay-per-view or sales, the complaint states. It claims those sales have come to more than $45 million in the United States, but in Canada, which released the movie in pay-per-view and video at the same time , no money has been collected at all.
“If the numbers for video are similar to Canada’s box office numbers, like in the United States, that means there should have been another roughly $900,000-$1,800,000 deposited in the collection account. Why not? How much is it? Where is that money?” the complaint asks.
The plaintiffs seek and accounting and damages for breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, fraudulent inducement and breach of contract.
It is represented by James McBride, of The Woodlands.
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