A federal judge in Santa Ana, California, entered judgmentyesterday (17 Aug) against Elie Samaha, Franchise Pictures, and 18 Franchiseone-off production companies for $121.5m.

Thejudgment, pending post-trial motions and appeals, marks the conclusion of the four-yearlegal battle between Franchise and its former co-production partner,Intertainment Licensing GmbH.

Judge Alicemarie Stotler ruled that Franchise, Samaha, andthe production companies that hold the copyrights to such films as GetCarter and The Whole Nine Yards are jointly and severally liable forthe $106m compensatory and punitive jury awards to Intertainment given at theconclusion of a nine-week fraud and breach of contract trial in June 2004.Judge Stotler also awarded $15.1m in pre-trial interest to Intertainment.

Intertainment lawyer Scott Edelman said he would immediatelyseek to collect the judgment. According to the judge's ruling, any monies thatcannot be collected from the Franchise films' copyright holding companies canbe collected directly from Samaha.

Next up for Intertainment is the January 2005 arbitrationscheduled between Intertainment, Franchise lender Comerica Bank and Franchisecompletion bonding companies Film Finances and Worldwide Film Completion.

Intertainment is claiming that the above litigants conspiredwith Franchise to defraud Intertainment in Franchise's budget-pumping scheme,and is asking for $100m in damages.

Franchise attorney Richard Schirtzer responded angrily to aclaim in a story on Screendaily.com (16 Aug) by a former Franchise executive thatSamaha, in order to get out from under the crushing monetary judgment in hisfraud trail, would have little choice but to testify against Comerica in theupcoming arbitration.

"Elie Samaha is not the kind of man to turn," Schirtzersaid. "He's not going to testify against the bank."