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Judge Tosses Pre-Trial Motions in Escape from Planet Earth Lawsuit

New York state judge Paul Feinman has turned down all the pre-trial motions in the lawsuit filed against The Weinstein Company over the film ESCAPE FROM PLANET EARTH, writes The Hollywood Reporter.

New York state judge Paul Feinman has turned down all the pre-trial motions in the lawsuit filed against The Weinstein Company over the film ESCAPE FROM PLANET EARTH, writes The Hollywood Reporter. Writer/director Tony Leech and film producer Brian Inerfeld claim that Harvey and Bob Weinstein "sabotaged" their film on purpose.

The story begins with the filmmakers having worked with the Weinsteins on the release of HOODWINKED. Leech and Inerfeld had signed a deal to make ESCAPE with the company and receive a minimum of 20% of film's adjusted gross profit. The filmmakers accuse the studio of shackling the film in development then requesting changes to a locked script 17 times during production, bringing work to a stop and keeping more than 200 animators on salary for doing no work. These actions and a payment to Kevin Bacon to not voice the film are alleged to have skyrocketed the budget. After this the Weinsteins sought new funding and mortgaged the rights to the film to gain it. The filmmakers then claim the Weinstein refused to pay them the production money they were owed unless the filmmakers gave up their backend deal.

The Weinsteins allege the filmmakers threatened to go public about their business dispute during Oscar season in order to harm the company's campaign for THE KING'S SPEECH. The filmmakers respond to that claim saying it was the Weinsteins who paid them $500,000 as "hush money." The plaintiffs also allege that the Weinsteins' lawyer David Boies advised them to pay the money and then claim economic duress in order to gain it back after the award season was over.

The Weinsteins issued a pre-trial motion to have the proceedings moved to California where experts in the entertainment industry are more easily found and requested that the plaintiffs be sanctioned for breaking their NDA. The judge rejected both motions stating that 63,000 professionals work in the entertainment industry in New York, which qualifies the state as having enough knowledge of the business, and that enough of the production was done in the state to keep the suit there. The judge also refused to dismiss the Weinsteins' co-defendants Rainmaker Entertainment, Escape Productions and JTM Escape Company Ltd. from the suit.

The filmmakers wanted Boies and his law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner to be barred from the case because Boies is a material witness to unethical practices. The judge ruled that removing Boies is premature considering The Weinstein Co. has never made an economic duress claim to recover the $500,000 it gave the filmmakers.

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