Miramax Films has filed a complaint in the New York District Court against English producer Eric Abraham, claiming that Abraham fraudulently inflated the prices for remake and/or sequel rights to 1995 foreign-language film Kolya and yet to be released Birthday Girl, starring Nicole Kidman.
"It has now become apparent," says the Miramax complaint, "that, in each case, Mr Abraham fraudulently and without revealing the true facts to Miramax, caused a shell company he secretly controlled to tender a purported "offer" for the remake of the film [Kolya], in order to trigger Miramax's obligation either to exercise the aforesaid rights and "match" the offer or lose the valuable opportunity to remake the film."
Miramax paid $1m for remake rights, it claims, by matching Abraham's "fraudulent offer'grossly overpaying for those rights in the process."
Miramax is asking not only return of the $1m but also for punitive damages to the amount of $5m
In the case of Birthday Girl, for which Miramax was negotiating remake and sequel rights, the company "after uncovering [Abraham's] fraudulent scheme, refused to match his fabricated demand, and objected to his deceitful tactics. In response, Mr Abraham's company unilaterally declared that Miramax's matching right had been discharged and that it had no right to participate in any future remake of the film."
The case was made against Abraham and his Portobello Pictures, Allied Media (incorporated in Guernsey) and Phoenix Film Investments (registered in Denmark), all of which it claims are "[Abraham's] alter ego".
Abraham was unavailable at US time of going to press.