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Comedian and filmmaker Tyler Perry is embroiled in a legal fight to build a movie studio on an old Atlanta Army base, but a federal court has ruled the latest lawsuit was premature.
Fort McPherson, a 488-acre property once used by the U.S. Army for something other than making "Madea" movies, was eyed by Ubiquitous Entertainment Studios as the new site of a "movie studio entertainment complex." According to The Hollywood Reporter, Tyler Perry then swooped in and negotiated with Atlanta city officials to purchase the base for $33 million, prompting Ubiquitous to sue... well, everybody.
So what's the latest in this Tyler Perry/Army base/movie studio drama?
In July, Ubiquitous filed suit in federal court against the government and Perry over the rights to Fort McPherson, but that effort was thwarted Tuesday because the deal isn't close to being done yet. As U.S. District Court Judge Richard Story noted in his opinion, the federal government has to actually approve the transfer of the Army property to the state government before anyone closes a deal on it.
The state agency which was created to deal with the base, the McPherson Implementing Local Redevelopment Authority (MILRA), had told Ubiquitous as much back in January. MILRA had stated "once they had title," they would notify Ubiquitous and the other interested parties "by public notice." Since MILRA is still wrapped up in red tape getting the title to the land from the federal government, any suit about Perry and MILRA colluding to sell the base is entirely premature.
Courts don't like issuing opinions or rulings without there being an actual interest or stake in the case. To do so would simply be to issue advisory opinions on what the law might say, which courts don't like doing. So until MILRA actually has legal right to the base, Ubiquitous' case needs to wait.
Although Ubiquitous may have been legally premature, that doesn't mean that they weren't on to something. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that MILRA voted in August to "approve a memorandum of understanding" with Perry that he would acquire 330 acres of the 488-acre base to build "up to 16 sound stages."
Judge Story didn't feel like this amounted to a contract, which means even if MILRA acquires the base, it may not be a lock for Perry. Also, since Ubiquitous has essentially shown its legal hand, Perry's lawyers are likely preparing for a legal clash to come.
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