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‘Kulipari’ Lawsuit Reveals Rift Over Netflix Show Financing

Variety logo Variety 3/8/2017 Gene Maddaus
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“Kulipari,” an animated show about superhero frogs, debuted last fall on Netflix and will be returning for a second season. But the renewal did not come without some drama, as revealed in a lawsuit filed in Santa Monica Superior Court on Monday.

The show is the brainchild of Trevor Pryce, a retired NFL defensive end who conceived the show and invested much of his own money in it. For the first season, Pryce partnered with the animation studio Splash Entertainment, which produced the show and put up the balance of the financing. But according to the lawsuit, Pryce began looking around for the alternate sources of financing for the second season.

The lawsuit was filed by VX119 Media Capital, an entertainment loan servicer. According to the suit, Pryce held a meeting with the firm last fall, at which he explained that his original plan for the first season was to finance the show entirely himself, and work with Splash on a work-for-hire basis. But he ran into financial trouble, forcing him into the partnership with Splash, according to the suit.

For the second season, Pryce told VX119 that he wanted to retake full ownership of the show, according to the suit. He asked that VX119 provide a loan directly to his own company, and not to Splash, which would cover the costs of the second season, VX119 alleges. Pryce pledged his personal real estate and ancillary rights to the show as collateral for the loan, according to the suit.

The lawsuit states that Pryce and VX119 signed a letter of intent on Jan. 30, providing a 90-day exclusivity window under which Pryce could not seek other sources of financing. Pryce then told VX119 not to have any contact with Splash, the servicer alleges. VX119 stated that would be impractical, as Splash appeared to have continuing rights to the show, and had the primary relationship with Netflix, according to VX119’s allegations.

Pryce ultimately advised VX119 that he was no longer interested in pursuing the loan, and that Splash would be obtaining the financing through a third party, according to the suit.

VX119 contends that Pryce violated the terms of their agreement by securing alternate financing during the 90-day exclusivity window. The lawsuit claims the company lost out on $2 million in interest payments due to the breach.

Pryce could not be reached for comment. Splash issued a statement confirming that the show will go on.

“We are moving forward with Season 2 of ‘Kulipari’ as planned,” said Mike Young, chairman and CEO of Splash. “Neither Splash nor Netflix are included in the lawsuit against Trevor Pryce. As with Season 1, Trevor will continue to serve as creator and executive producer.”

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