Michael Keaton found not liable in breach of contract lawsuit

My career used to be film business–big films. If I’m reading this New York Law Journal abstract correctly, I can’t figure out how producers could file a lawsuit against a director–that it’s Michael Keaton isn’t particularly relevant–for, apparently, making a flop.

Do you know how many directors make flops? Have you figured out how any film company can guarantee that the millions of dollars it spends on a production will pay them back? Indeed, I once had the temerity to tell Barry Diller, during a staff meeting shortly after he’d been named head of Paramount Pictures, that I’d always thought of the film business as a fun fair, not, say, a new toilet paper. That is, the sales potential of a motion picture was not testable before the money was spent and the film was made. (Yes, he fired me shortly thereafter.)

Can you imagine a contract with a director that stipulated the film had to turn out to be successful? Can you imagine any director’s lawyer letting him sign it?

Not possible.

I’d strongly suggest to Mr. Keaton that he not work with these people again.

Michael Keaton Not Liable for Box Office Flop ‘Merry Gentleman’

Seventh Circuit panel sides with actor in breach of contract case.

Mike Sacks, The National Law Journal   

A federal appeals court Tuesday sided with actor Michael Keaton in a breach of contract suit brought against him by the producers behind his box office flop “Merry Gentleman.” The movie, released in 2009, was Keaton’s directorial debut.

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