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Weinstein Company Sued Over ‘The Founder’ and ‘Gold’ Release Timing

Variety logo Variety 2/8/2017 Gene Maddaus
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The Weinstein Company endured back-to-back flops last month, releasing “The Founder” and “Gold” on consecutive weekends and drawing lackluster audiences.

Now the company is also facing a lawsuit from FilmNation, which co-financed “The Founder” and blames the Weinstein Company for screwing up the film’s release. The lawsuit, filed in the New York Supreme Court on Monday, accuses the Weinstein Company of violating the “no competitive release” clause in their co-financing agreement, which provided for a one-week blackout period surrounding release of “The Founder.”

FilmNation, through its subsidiary Speedee Distribution, alleges there are broad similarities between the two films. Both feature award-winning actors — Michael Keaton in “The Founder,” and Matthew McConaughey in “Gold” — as real-life businessmen who manipulate people as they build tremendous fortunes.

“‘The Founder’ and ‘Gold’ both appeal to the same audience,” the lawsuit states. “At all relevant times, the two films 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 lawsuit includes an image of ads for both films on opposite pages of the New York Times.

FilmNation alleges it notified the Weinstein Company of the breach of the agreement in November, when it first learned of the close proximity of the release dates. FilmNation is seeking $15 million in damages.

In response, Weinstein Company attorney Evan Chesler said, “The company did not breach the agreement and will defend itself in court.”

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