With the anticipated hype of the next Star Wars sequel upon us, Episode VIII director Rian Johnson is busy prepping filming for the next sequel in the Star Wars saga which hits theaters on December 15, 2017. Though Johnson is not a household name like George Lucas or Steven Spielberg (who has never directed a Star Wars film), he sure is suffering from major headaches that come with making a new Star Wars film… that includes lawsuits.
Rian Johnson is being sued by former agent Brian Dreyfuss for breach of implied contract. Dreyfuss is claiming that Johnson owes him a 10 percent commission on “any and all projects he facilitated.” This includes Star Wars: Episode VIII.
According to a report in The Hollywood Reporter, Dreyfuss is suing Johnson and producer Ram Bergman, for refusing to pay him a 10 percent commission.
“Agent Brian Dreyfuss is suing Johnson for breach of implied contract, claiming the director is refusing to pay him his 10 percent commission, according to the complaint filed Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court. Producer Ram Bergman is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit. Dreyfuss claims Bergman ‘orchestrated much of Johnson’s business life’ and ‘adopted a course of conduct to marginalize Dreyfuss and limit his influence.'”
Bergman has worked with Rian Johnson in previous films such as Looper and Brick, and is also working with Johnson on Star Wars: Episode VIII as a producer. Bergman will also be producing Star Wars: Episode IX while Johnson will serve as writer.
Dreyfuss started representing Rian Johnson in 2002 and even claims that he agreed to represent Johnson, in exchange for 10 percent of commission on any and all projects that Dreyfuss facilitated, including renewals. The Hollywood Reporter also claims that “Johnson agreed to pay that commission whether or not the employment contracts were procured… And whether or not the employment continued after the end of their agreement.” Dreyfuss also claims that if it wasn’t for him, Johnson would’ve never gotten the opportunity to work on Star Wars. Dreyfuss claims that in January of 2014, Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy contacted him regarding Johnson’s interested in future film projects. Johnson and Kennedy had met in 2012 prior to being offered the Star Wars job, which Dreyfuss claims he also set up.
In regards as to why Dreyfuss is suing both Bergman and Johnson, The Hollywood Reporter reports that Bergman’s influence was the reason the contract was terminated.
“[Dreyfuss] alleges that Bergman used his extensive influence on and over [Rian] Johnson to convince him to forestall any pursuit of the opportunities with Lucasfilm, in particular the Star Wars Projects, until after Johnson terminated [Dreyfuss] as his representative.”
Though Rian Johnson is being sued for claims made by Dreyfuss, CinemaBlend reports that Johnson has a whole different story.
“[Johnson] fired Dreyfuss at one point, prior to accepting the Star Wars gig, and Dreyfuss likely is just doing the math on what should be 10% of that Lucasfilm paycheck and realizing he wants in on that nest egg.”
Dreyfuss is not only suing for damages, but also wants a declaration from the court that Johnson must pay him 10 percent of all commissionable projects.
The lawsuit hasn’t slowed Johnson down in any way. Filming for Star Wars: Episode VIII began in September of last year on Skellig Michael, an island off the mainland coast of Ireland. Recently, Lucasfilm announced the addition of Oscar winning actor Benicio Del Toro and Laura Dern to the cast of Episode VIII. Neither Del Toro’s nor Dern’s roles have been announced to the general public.
[Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images]