Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore has sued financiers Harvey and Bob Weinstein for allegedly skimming more than $2.7 million from the profits of the 2004 documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11".
According to the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court Monday, "This case is about classic Hollywood accounting tricks and financial deception perpetrated by The Fellowship Adventure Group (TFAG) and its owners, Harvey and Bob Weinstein, against its partner Westside Productions, LLC, the "loan out" company for acclaimed filmmaker Michael Moore."
The Weinstein brothers founded Miramax Films in 1979, but later sold the company to The Walt Disney Co. They have produced movies such as "Pulp Fiction," "Scary Movie," "Chicago," and many more.
The Weinstein brothers and Moore had agreed to split the profits from the movie evenly, with both parties receiving half of the profits. Moore alleged that The Fellowship Adventure Group used "bogus accounting methods" to secretly withhold some of the profits from the film.
The alleged deception was revealed in November 2008, during an audit commissioned by Westside Productions.
"An independent auditor came in and discovered that the Weinsteins had re-routed at least $2.7 million dollars that belonged to Michael Moore from 'Fahrenheit 9/11,'" Moore's lawyer, Larry Stein, said in a statement. "This is the first time Michael Moore has ever sued anyone in his 20-yr career as a filmmaker. That should be some indication about how serious this is."
"It's very sad it had to come to this," he continued. "Michael believes the Weinsteins have been a force for good when it comes to championing independent film -- but that does not give them the right to violate a contract and take money that isn't theirs. The $2.7 million is just the floor of what we believe is owed. When this goes to discovery I wouldn't be surprised if the amount of what was taken goes much, much higher."
The lawsuit alleged that Bob Weinstein used some of the movie’s profits to fly to Europe on a private jet, among other things.
"Mr. Moore has been paid a huge amount of money and he is not entitled to another dime," Bert Fields, a lawyer for the Weinsteins, told the conservative-leaning Fox News Channel. "He has received every dollar he's entitled to, and his allegations are a lot of hot air, which we will demonstrate to the court. There simply is no merit to any of his claims. They're all just unfounded and bologna."
Moore was unable to be reached for comment on Tuesday afternoon. His media relations contact told Raw Story that they had not wanted to drag the case through the media, but made public statements due to the vocal objections from from Weinstein's attorney.
"These aren't the actions of someone who is filing a lawsuit out of anger or revenge," Stein said. "This matter is quite simply a black-and-white, cut-and-dried issue -- the Weinsteins owe Michael Moore at least $2.7 million, and after nearly 3 years of asking for it and being ignored, he was forced to take this regrettable action."