The Third Circuit Court of Appeals denied Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, David O. Russell, and others a ticket to appeals court to argue that they have been cheated out of money owed to them from the Oscar-nominated film, Silver Linings Playbook.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the stars — along with the producer and director of the movie — did not agree to the sale of their talent participation agreements by production company The Weinstein Company to Lantern Entertainment, now Spyglass Media Group. This sale was made as part of a $289 million package for The Weinstein Company’s assets after it filed for bankruptcy following allegations of sexual assault against Harvey Weinstein.
To “test” the assumption that Weinstein’s old debts were not Lantern’s responsibility, the company sued Silver Linings Playbook executive producer Bruce Cohen to prove that it had legally acquired the rights to the film free of any claims. And as The Hollywood Reporter reported, in January, the company won the suit when U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Mary Walrath ruled that Cohen’s deal had been substantially performed, even in the face of dissent from many experts, including attorneys for Quentin Tarantino.
“I conclude that the primary purpose of this contract was for Cohen to produce this film, and that was concluded years ago.”
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals turns down Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro and others who believe that bankrupt Weinstein Co. can't assign their talent agreements without first paying everything that's owed. https://t.co/LOU8OBKMRQ— Eriq Gardner (@eriqgardner) May 3, 2019
Cooper attempted to directly appeal the decision to the Third Circuit as the first-named petitioner and used the petition to highlight the “critical” nature of the legal issue. He hoped that the appeal would move the bankruptcy case forward, not just for himself, but for the many victims of Weinstein who are seeking to collect money.
The petition also claims that neither the Third Circuit nor the Supreme Court has resolved the question of whether work-for-hire agreements that contain ongoing obligations to parties connected to the film must be fulfilled following the release of the film.
“The result in this case will have a significant effect not only on the Counterparties, but also on all other actors, producers, writers, and directors negotiating multimillion-dollar participation agreements with movie studios. Given the sheer volume and frequency of such transactions, and the clear impact that a ruling on the executoriness of such contracts could have on the talent’s ability to ensure payment in the event of a studio’s bankruptcy, the issues clearly have great public importance.”
While the bankruptcy judge certified an appeal following the absence of a position from Spyglass, the Third Circuit still isn’t convinced, even though they did not explain why.