Sundance darling Push is at the center of a bitter tug-of-war, with The Weinstein Company filing multiple suits against Lionsgate and Cinetic, the company that brokered the deal, alleging fraud and breach of contract.
THR provided an exhaustive analysis today of exactly how and when financier toes were stepped upon and moguls were made to cry like five-year-old girls, which we've broken down into a handy Get Your Hands of My Push Baby Timeline.
· January 16 — Push debuts in Park City. It built steady buzz over the week, wooing suitors, but accepting no official bites.
· January 24 — Sundance's closing day. In a few hours, Push would win both U.S. grand jury and audience prizes. Weinstein execs land in Park City to negotiate for a buy.
· January 25-27 — A series of meetings and conference calls between Push producer-financier Smokewood Entertainment Group, TWC, and Cinetic, a film financing advisory assigned with brokering the deal.
· TWC also explored two other options: one that would pair them with a private investor, another that would see them going halfsies with Lionsgate—a partnership that proved successful in the past with Fahrenheit 9/11.
· Lionsgate was interested, especially since their Chief Drag Officer and one-man money-making -machine Tyler Perry loved Push.
· January 27 — That morning, TWC and Cinetic reach a detailed agreement. A phone call with the Push financiers that day and one e-mail that evening later, TWC had made an official bid, accepting the filmmakers' terms and requesting paperwork from Cinetic. A Cinetic rep replied in an e-mail that he was "explaining every detail" to his client. The paperwork never came.
· January 28 — TWC tell Lionsgate the deal has closed. Lionsgate approached Cinetic and were assured Push was still theirs for the taking.
· February 2 — Lionsgate seals their own deal, with Perry and Oprah Winfrey's involvement secured.
· February 4 — TWC files complaints in New York Supreme Court against Cinetic, Lionsgate and Smokewood.
· Lionsgate fights back, filing a pre-emptive lawsuit asking a judge to declare Lionsgate the film's legal owner.
The crux of the case, then, lies in Cinetic's e-mails and the intention behind them. According to TWC's Scary Hollywood Lawyer Bert Fields, "The critical thing is that (TWC) sent an e-mail saying we've accepted your terms and we've reached an agreement, and when (Cinetic) writes back and says we're explaining the deal to the clients, that's an adoptive admission that a deal exists." A lawyer for Lionsgate retorts, "The material deal terms were not agreed to, and I think it's apparent on the face of their complaint. Some of those e-mails are deliberately authored in ways to suggest that there was a contract where indeed there wasn't."