Film Studio Sues, Alleges Director Walked Out on Action Thriller Film

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A British motion picture studio is suing a director for allegedly reneging on his promise to shoot the upcoming fourth installment of the “The Expendables'' film franchise.

Expendables Productions Ltd. brought the suit in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday against Simon Crane and his loan-out company, Rapscallion Films Ltd., alleging breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and fraud. The studio is seeking more than $1 million in compensatory damages, plus punitive damages.

The suit also asks for a court declaration that Crane is not entitled to any compensation from the studio.

“This action is the result of Crane's refusal to honor his contractual obligations under his agreement to direct the fourth installment of the massively successful `The Expendables' motion picture film franchise ... and his subsequent abandonment of the picture during pre-production,'' the suit states.

A representative for Simon could not be immediately reached.

The first three “The Expendables'' films were released in 2010, 2012 and 2014 and the forthcoming installment is the subject of the current lawsuit. The ensemble cast in each movie has included Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jason Statham.

Expendables Productions had reservations about hiring Crane given that he was better known for his work as a second-unit director and, to the plaintiff's knowledge, had never before directed a major theatrical motion picture film, but the studio decided to take a chance on him, the suit states.

“As the saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished,'' the suit states.

Simon refused to hold meetings, did not communicate with his department heads or hire key crew members on a timely basis, the suit states.

He also refused to make many key decisions in the development of the film's pre-production stage, the suit states.

“Rather, Crane's entire tenure as director was marred by petty disagreements relating to such things as travel tickets, rental cars, office locations and the preferential hiring of Crane's friends in key crew rolls,'' the suit states.

“Simply put, Crane did almost nothing to prep the picture,'' the suit alleges.

Crane made repeated threats to quit the picture if he did not get his way, then twice walked off the film, the last time for good in August, according to the suit.

Crane refused to direct the movie by saying he objected to the final version of the screenplay, but his reasons were “purely pretextual,'' the suit states.

“Crane's conduct ... leads to only one reasonable conclusion: Crane never had any intention of directing the picture, approving the  September 2019 screenplay or honoring the plaintiff's final approval rights, but, rather, falsely promised that he would do so in order to induce plaintiff to engage him as director of the picture,'' the suit states.

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