Twoweeks before the scheduled March 5 opening of Kill Bill Vol I in Spain through BVI, Spanish distributor MangaFilms last week filed a suit against Miramax Films in a Barcelona courtclaiming non-completion of a distribution agreement for both Vol I and Vol II.
Andyesterday Miramax Films filed a suit back in the same Barcelona court on threeseparate counts, alleging that Manga is attempting to interfere with theexploitation of the film in the market.
Accordingto Manga president Luis de Val, the two companies signed an agreement lastNovember for theatrical and video/DVD rights in Spain on both volumes of thefilm.
MiramaxCOO Rick Sands couldn't be drawn on the suit itself, but he did say toScreendaily: "We will vigorously protect our film-makers and our movies and ourcopyright everywhere on this planet."
DeVal claims that Miramax sold the film to Manga and that Miramax subsequentlycontracted the same rights to sister company BVI. The Spanish company is askingto be paid the percentage commission on the Spanish box office and video/DVDreceipts of the film originally accorded under the November agreement, whichdid not entail an advance payment on rights.
Italso seeks retribution for damages to the company's image over the brokenagreement. De Val says that Manga already invested in the premiere andpromotion of the first volume of Kill Bill at the local Sitges International Film Festival (Nov27-Dec 7), where the film shared an audience award.
Miramaxhas said in the past that there were several bidders for the film, of whichManga was one, but that the BVI deal was considered the most advantageous.Manga, meanwhile, had offered to take the film to Sitges for Miramax, an offerwhich was taken up. One of Miramax's claims in the lawsuit is that Manga hasbeen illegally using copyrighted materials lent for the sole purpose of theSitges festival for other purposes.
"Wemade this move before the premiere of the film in Spain to protect ourreputation with clients and exhibitors, and to show Miramax that we are seriousabout what we've been discussing these past few months and about thissuit," de Val said in a statement.
"Thereis still time to withdraw [the suit] if Miramax offers a compensation whichinterests us," he added.
Miramaxbegan looking for a new distributor in Spain last year when relations withlongtime local all-rights distributor Lauren Films soured. It signed amulti-year agreement with BVITV for Spanish TV rights on at least 17 films peryear, and a separate package of high-profile new titles to BVI for theatricaland video/DVD in Spain.
Miramax and Lauren came toan agreement in December on 18 as-yet unreleased titles previously acquired anda decade's worth of library titles.
(Mike Goodridge in Los Angelescontributed to this report)