Off-Broadway Troupe Comments on Suit Against Julie Taymor's "Midsummer Night's Dream" Film Producer

News   Off-Broadway Troupe Comments on Suit Against Julie Taymor's "Midsummer Night's Dream" Film Producer
 
"Julie Taymor's A Midsummer Night's Dream," the Lion King director's imaginative rethinking of Shakespeare's classic that was filmed before a live audience during its 2014 run at Theatre For A New Audience in Brooklyn, reportedly has become the subject of a lawsuit filed just a few days before the film's planned premiere.

Artful Dodgers in Performance and the Theatre for a New Audience are suing film producer Ben Latham-Jones and Londinium Films for breach of contract and fraud, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The suit was filed in New York federal court June 9, and claims that Latham has effectively "disappeared," leaving some $500,000 in bills unpaid.

Taymor herself is not a party to the suit.

Theatre for a New Audience founding artistic director Jeffrey Horowitz issued the following brief comment to Playbill.com: "We hope to resolve our differences shortly. We look forward to using all of our collective efforts to support the film so it can become the success it deserves to be."

According to the published story, "Latham-Jones allegedly didn't want to set up a production company to produce Taymor's film, but did agree to raise 100 percent of the capital required for the production. Furthermore, he is said to have tasked the plaintiffs with the role as paymaster and agreed to indemnify them against costs and expenses related to the production."

Latham-Jones reportedly paid $500,000 up front, but failed to pay for the rest of the film's cost, which amounted to a reported $1 million. Taymor reportedly claims to have paid $300,000 out of her own pocket to cover payroll obligations, and the two plaintiffs in the case paid the rest. They are hoping to recover their costs from Latham-Jones.

The newspaper quoted the complaint from attorney Jonathan Blackman, saying, "Having thus induced Plaintiffs [Artful Dodgers in Performance and the Theatre for a New Audience] to continue dealing with them and to forebear from acting on their rights under the Contract until such time as the premieres and distribution of the Film became practically unstoppable, Defendants [Latham-Jones and Londinium Films] have now effectively disappeared, doubtless hoping to enjoy the fruits of distribution while withholding payment to Plaintiffs until such time – if ever – Defendants choose to honor their obligations."

The Hollywood Reporter tracked down Latham-Jones and published his response: "The allegations are categorically untrue. The full budget of the film has been paid and certain overages are being settled."

Taymor's collaboration on the Broadway musical Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark also wound up in court when she was fired from the project but much of her original work was retained.

"Julie Taymor's A Midsummer Night's Dream" is scheduled to premiere June 15 in New York and to be screened June 22 at selected cinemas across the U.S. See the recently released trailer below.

All showings are scheduled for 7 PM local time. For locations or to buy tickets, visit FathomEvents.com. Tickets will also be sold at participating cinema box offices.

Taymor, who is known for her Tony Award-winning staging of The Lion King on Broadway, also has worked extensively in film ("Frida," "The Magic Flute," "Across The Universe," "Titus").

"Julie Taymor's A Midsummer Night's Dream" bowed at last year's Toronto International Film Festival. The cast includes David Harewood ("Homeland," "Blood Diamond"), Kathryn Hunter ("Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"), Tina Benko ("The Avengers") and Max Casella ("Blue Jasmine").

Here is the trailer for the film:

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