Speaking of lawsuits over movies that made a lot of money in the early months of 2004 …

Speaking of lawsuits over movies that made a lot of money in the early months of 2004 … February 11, 2008

People reports that Benedict Fitzgerald, co-writer of The Passion of the Christ (2004), is suing writer-director Mel Gibson for $5 million:

In the 21-page complaint filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Benedict Fitzgerald accuses Gibson of fraud, breach of contract and unfair business practices.

“Gibson preyed monetarily on Ben, taking advantage of his unbridled enthusiasm for the project and with full cognizance of Ben’s fundamental personal and spiritual beliefs,” the lawsuit says.

Fitzgerald claims Gibson, who also takes a screenwriting credit on the 2004 film, engaged in a “chronic and conspiratorial pattern of deceit,” telling Fitzgerald he’d be working on a small, $4 million to $7 million project that would yield little money for Fitzgerald and none for Gibson.

Although by some accounts the film grossed over $600 million worldwide, Fitzgerald complains he was paid $75,000 and that he had to borrow $200,000 from Gibson for expenses.

Incidentally, it was just over a year ago that I linked to an item on a film that Fitzgerald was developing called Myriam, Mother of the Christ. At the time, the film was “slated to bow around Easter 2008”, but those plans evidently didn’t pan out. I wonder what stage that project is at, now, or if it is still in the works.

FEB 12 UPDATE: The Associated Press adds this detail:

Fitzgerald also alleged Gibson promised he wouldn’t receive any money from the film and any profit would be distributed to people who worked on the movie.

Gibson stated he didn’t want “money on the back of what he considered a personal gift to his (Roman Catholic) faith,” the lawsuit said.

So, um, the question has to be asked: What is Fitzgerald planning to do with the money, if he should win the lawsuit?

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