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'Snowden' Distributors Suing for $3M in Financing

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on March 10, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Just the name Snowden is polarizing. Hero, traitor, patriot, rat -- depending on your political leanings, any one of these can fit Edward Snowden in your mind. It turns out movies about Snowden, and his disclosure of mass NSA surveillance, can be just as divisive, legally speaking.

After a former Naval officer tried to sue makers of a Snowden documentary for "billions of dollars" to be paid to the entire populous of the United States, a slightly more specific lawsuit has been filed over the fictionalized film account. The film distribution company Wild Bunch is suing production company Vendian for $3 million it claims Vendian agreed (and allegedly failed) to pay for distribution of Oliver Stone's biopic "Snowden."

The ins and outs of film financing, and thus this lawsuit, are a little complicated, so we'll let Eriq Gardner from the Hollywood Reporter break it down:

Wild Bunch made a deal in 2015 with the film's main production company, Sacha, Inc., whereby the sales agency got the exclusive right to license and sublicense Snowden in numerous territories around the world. Wild Bunch agreed to a minimum guarantee of $2.5 million and would pay Sacha a "net balance" of the film's gross receipts minus $11.5 million (the amount of a bank production loan).
Wild Bunch says that Vendian then agreed to a $3 million payment to cover the "net balance" portion not covered by gross receipts, but that Vendian hasn't followed through here.

Vendian's payment was designed to be what is known as "gap financing," to cover other monetary shortfalls in financing the film. Wild Bunch even agreed to pay Vendian if it didn't end up needing the funds.

Financing Liability

But need them it did, and Vendian allegedly didn't pay. Wild Bunch is also claiming that Vendian's breach of contract has had a "domino effect" impacting the company's other business deals, including bank payments and allegedly terminating some international distribution rights for "Snowden." Essentially, Wild Bunch went into its financial planning for the film "[w]ith the understanding that the Gap Financing would be available if and when it was needed, and in reasonable reliance on Vendian's guarantee."

"Vendian did not pay the Vendian Contribution within the prescribed ten-day period required by the Contract," the lawsuit claims, "nor has Vendian paid the Vendian Contribution to date despite multiple requests and opportunities to cure." Wild Bunch is looking for its $3 million, along with "actual, incidental, consequential, and punitive damages." It seems like Snowden will give President Trump a run for his money as the most legally divisive figure of our times.

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