For a while, it looked like No Country For Old Men might have been the perfect crime, one where everybody made out as a winner: Javier Bardem, Scott Rudin and the Coens with their Oscars; Josh Brolin with leading-man creds; and Miramax and Paramount Vantage splitting the $160 million worldwide gross. Did we forget anyone? Oh. Right:
Prize-winning actor and director Tommy Lee Jones is suing the makers of No Country for Old Men, the 2007 West Texas crime thriller that garnered four Academy awards, claiming they have failed to pay him more than $10 million he is owed according to his contract. ...
In the lawsuit, Jones claims he signed a contract with N.M. Classics on April 3, 2006, agreeing to act in the film, as well as to provide "additional related services" for the movie's promotion. In exchange, the lawsuit says the company promised to pay Jones a fixed "up-front" fee and, depending upon the film's financial success, "significant box-office bonuses and 'back-end' compensation." Those pledged to be "significant," according to the lawsuit, because they were supposed to compensate for Jones' reduced up-front fee. ... Jones also argues the company breached his contract by failing to pay him the bonuses and wrongly deducting unauthorized expenses from his back-end pay. He says he was fraudulently made to render his services under a contract the company knew contained mistakes, though they didn't inform him of them until after the movie had been made, by which time it was too late.
The "mistakes" allegedly included an unspecified "major issue involving the deduction for home video expenses" and — shocker! — the formula used to calculate box-office-based bonuses. Jones reportedly agreed to back-end terms similar to those of Rudin and the Coens, none of whom have yet sued (nor are expected to sue) for restitution of their own. It's a mournful, illusion-shattering turn of events, to be sure; they seemed so happy, and Paramount has never, ever screwed anyone! We hope a resolution can be achieved swiftly and amicably out of court, lest the ensuing trial suddenly entitle Bardem to sue over the "mistakes" that yielded three months of coiffure-induced sex deprivation. No studio can survive slopes this slippery.