UPDATE, 10:51 AM: After the scathing lawsuit filed earlier this week against her by the producers of Jane Got A Gun, director Lynne Ramsay has responded. In a brief statement today, Ramsay’s reps says she hasn’t seen the suit yet but that from what has been reported, the claims in it are “simply false.” The director suddenly exited the Natalie Portman pic the weekend before filming was scheduled to start in New Mexico in March. If that wasn’t controversy enough, the breach of contract and fraud complaint (read more below) filed on in federal court on November 4 lashed out at Ramsay, calling her “abusive” and “disruptive.” The suit also goes after her for failing “to provide the writing and directing services” she was already paid $140,000 for before filming was set to start. Additionally, the suit alleges that Ramsay instructed her WME agents not to give the producers back the $360,000 that the agency is holding in escrow as part of her pay from the film. Ramsay was supposed to receive $750,000 for directing Jane Got A Gun plus bonuses. The complaint is seeking more than $500,000 in damages to be determined at trial. Here’s the full Ramsay statement from today:
Lynne Ramsay has not been served with this lawsuit and, when she is, she will respond in court and not in the media. That said, the allegations as recently reported are simply false. Lynne looks forward to presenting the truth about this situation in the proper forum.
PREVIOUSLY, NOV. 6 PM: She left the Natalie Portman Western in March before shooting was set to start and now the producers want Lynne Ramsay to pay up. More specifically, Jane Got A Gun Production, LLC wants an injunction to force Ramsay’s agency WME to give back $360,000 it claims is still being held in escrow as well as more than $500,000 in damages to be determined at trial. The breach of contract and fraud complaint (read it here) was filed earlier this week in federal court in New Mexico. Ramsay is the only defendant named in the filing that local station KRQE first reported. The producers, who include Scott Steindorff and Regency Boies, allege that under a contract agreed to in July 2012, Ramsay was initially paid $90,000 to direct the pic and $50,000 to fine-tune the Brian Duffield script. She was to receive $750,000 in total for her directing work on the pic plus 5% of adjusted gross and box office bonuses. Ramsay would have gotten another $25,000 for each Oscar or Golden Globe nomination the movie received and $50,000 more if it won one of those awards. However on location in New Mexico during early 2013 the complaint says the We Need To Talk About Kevin helmer “failed to provide the writing and directing services” on the film. The plaintiffs also claim that this “unreasonably delayed completion of a final budget for the Picture, and of the Picture itself.” Further more, they luridly allege in the 44-page complaint that Ramsay was “repeatedly under the influence of alcohol, was abusive to members of the cast and crew and was generally disruptive.” Portman herself and producer Aleen Keshishian are not party to the suit.
EXCLUSIVE: The resilient indie Western Jane Got A Gun finally has its bad guy. Ewan McGregor is negotiating to play the pivotal role of the leader of an outlaw gang in the film that Gavin O’Connor is now directing. Natalie Portman plays the wife of an outlaw (Noah Emmerich) who leaves that gang after he gets shot up, and returns home. Knowing his former outlaw mates will come to finish him off and destroy her farm, Jane is forced to rekindle a relationship with a past love (Joel Edgerton), a capable gunman who can help her. This is the role that Jude Law originally was going to play, but he exited when original director Lynne Ramsay abruptly left the night before production began. After O’Connor came on to replace Ramsay behind the camera, they got Bradley Cooper to play the part, but his schedule is so impossibly busy — particularly after shooting got postponed on the David O Russell-directed American Hustle because of the Boston Marathon bombing and subsequent city lockdown — that Cooper had to drop out. This was OK because the villain wasn’t scheduled to shoot until later into the production.
EXCLUSIVE: Bradley Cooper is poised to join the cast of Jane Got A Gun, stepping in to play the bad guy role that Jude Law exited shortly after We Need To Talk About Kevin helmer Lynne Ramsay‘s abrupt exit. Cooper joins Natalie Portman and Joel Edgerton in the film that Warrior helmer Gavin O’Connor took over.
Despite a tough start, the film is now two weeks into production. The producers, including Scott Steindorff, Portman, Terry Dougas and Aleen Keshishian, have pulled off a minor miracle here. As Deadline revealed exclusively, the cast and crew found out the morning of the first day of shooting that Ramsay had withdrawn from the film. They managed to keep the crew and cast from scattering until they could set O’Connor. Then Law exited, because he wanted to work with Ramsay. I’ve seen independent films fall apart with less adversity, but these guys persevered. They got the film started, but needed to find a replacement with someone with comparable value to Law in the overseas marketplace. They’ve overachieved in landing Cooper.
EXCLUSIVE: When We Need To Talk About Kevin helmer Lynne Ramsay pulled a no-show and dropped out of helming Jane Got A Gun on the first day of shooting, producer and financier Scott Steindorff said they were determined to set a new director quickly and keep the picture from falling apart. Well, it looks like they’ve gotten themselves a good one. A deal is closing with Gavin O’Connor, the writer-director of Warrior, Pride And Glory, Miracle and Tumbleweeds. O’Connor will get the picture underway Thursday.
Considering how fragile independently financed productions can be, this is fairly remarkable that Steindorff and his fellow producers including Natalie Portman and Aleen Keshishian have managed to keep this picture from falling apart, and prevent the cast and crew from leaving the Sante Fe set and scattering to the winds. As Deadline revealed exclusively yesterday, the production endured what has to go down as the worst first day of shooting in movie history, when Steindorff was forced to gather the crew and castmembers Portman, Joel Edgerton, Jude Law and Rodrigo Santoro to tell them that after nine months of developing the project, the director wasn’t showing up after a series of negotiating twists and turns took place over the weekend.
EXCLUSIVE: When the cast and crew of the indie drama Jane Got A Gun showed up for the first day of production Monday in Sante Fe, they learned that director Lynne Ramsay was a no-show and had abruptly dropped out of the film. Among those who learned of her exit yesterday were Natalie Portman, who stars in the film and is producing with Scott Steindorff, Joel Edgerton, Jude Law and Rodrigo Santoro. Steindorff, who is financing the picture through his Scott Pictures label, confirmed the crisis and said they are determined to hold the picture together until they set a new director. He said that would happen imminently.
A lot of filmmakers step off projects and we chalk it up to creative differences, but I can’t remember a situation when a filmmaker who developed a film didn’t show up for work on the day it starts production. Clearly there was drama the weekend before, but this is pretty shocking. Not surprisingly, Steindorff indicated that there is a high level of acrimony here. He said that Ramsay has a pay or play deal, and that he has also retained litigator Marty Singer to keep his options open. The crew is still showing up to work and the project is still being cash flowed, with actors rehearsing scenes.
“I have millions of dollars invested, we’re ready to shoot, we have a great script, crew and cast,” Steindorff told Deadline. “I’m shocked and so disappointed someone would do this to 150 crew members who devoted so much time, energy, commitment and loyalty to a project, and then have the director not show up. It is insane somebody would do this to other people. I feel more for the crew and their families, but we are keeping the show going on, directors are flying in, and a replacement is imminent.”