LOS ANGELES (CN) – The screenwriter behind the soon-to-be-released thriller “Boot Tracks” says producers breached an option agreement by making unauthorized changes to his script, and wants an injunction to block release of the film.
Matthew Jones claims director David Jacobson and producer Larry Rattner approached him to option rights for the “Boot Tracks” screenplay he adapted from his own 2006 novel of the same name.
Jones sued Jacobson, Rattner and Dirt Blossom Inc. in Federal Court, alleging copyright violations, breach of contract and fraud.
“Defendant Jacobson and Rattner promised that the screenplay would not be changed, that they understood the unique artistic integrity of the screenplay and that if changes did have to be made in order to secure financing that plaintiff would be the only one allowed to make said changes, which would be consistent with the authenticity of the novel. This understanding was eventually reduced to writing in the form of an option agreement,” the complaint state.
To sweeten the deal, Jones says, the producers offered him a one-third share in their production company, Dirt Blossom, and executive producer credit on the movie.
Jones says the three men are Dirt Blossom’s only principals and that “Boot Tracks” is the only project the company has developed or produced.
“The promises defendants Rattner and Jacobson made to plaintiff were made fraudulently with the intent to induce plaintiff to signing an option agreement that would give defendants Rattner and Jacobson access to the screenplay so they could misappropriate it and use it in the way they wanted without regard to the promises made to plaintiff,” the complaint states.
The 2010 option, attached to the complaint, states that all creative decisions on the project will be “jointly discussed and shared” by the three partners.
The agreement adds: “If there is not a unanimous consensus on any issue or element, such decisions will be made on a majority vote.”
Jones says Rattner and Jacobson changed the story “in such a manner that significantly deviates from the screenplay and from the authenticity of the novel, thereby directly infringing plaintiff’s copyrights and creating an unauthorized derivative work from plaintiff’s registered copyright.”
He claims “that such changes were never ‘jointly discussed and shared by all three members’ and that there was never a vote concerning the changes as was required by the option agreement.”
Jones says the revisions were made to secure financing and distribution, without his knowledge or consent. And he claims production began before the producers paid a $75,000 fee to exercise the option agreement.
“In or about August of 2011, plaintiff discovered that filming had concluded. Upon such discovery plaintiff confronted defendants Rattner and Jacobson, who were unresponsive to plaintiff’s concerns,” the complaint states.
Jones says Rattner and Jacobson “purported” to exercise the option for “Boot Tracks” when they discovered that he was considering legal action.
The unreleased film stars Michelle Monaghan, Willem Dafoe and Stephen Dorff, according to industry publications.
Jones seeks an injunction and $500,000 in punitive damages for copyright infringement, breach of contract, fraud, breach of fiduciary duties and involuntary dissolution.
He is represented by Arthur Aaronson of Encino.