"Men in Black 3" director Barry Sonnenfeld loses bid to reverse $325K arbitration judgment
Barry Sonnenfeld is on the hook for the $325,000 that he owes his former agency for their cut of his director's fees for "Men in Black 3," a judge said Wednesday.
U.S. district judge S. James Otero quashed Sonnenfeld's efforts to have an earlier arbitration award vacated or altered, deeming that the director owed the full amount.
The order springs from arbitration between UTA and Sonnenfeld earlier this year, during which arbitrator Howard Weitzman determined that Sonnenfeld owed his former agency $325,000 as its cut of his "Men in Black 3" compensation, despite the fact that he was no longer with the agency.
Back in 1995, when Sonnenfeld was still with UTA, the agency brokered a deal for Sonnenfeld to direct "Men in Black," at a fee of $3.25 million, with UTA receiving a 10 percent commission. Shortly thereafter, Sonnenfeld and UTA parted ways, with the director moving on to Creative Artists Agency. When Sonnenfeld agreed to direct "Men in Black 2," CAA paid out another $3.25 million to UTA, since the "Men in Black II" deal was a by-product of the original deal struck by UTA.
However, according to Otero's decision today, for this summer's "Men in Black 3," Sonnenfeld struck a new deal with Columbia "from scratch," and UTA never received its cut.
UTA initiated the arbitration process in December 2010, with Weitzman reaching his decision in March 2012.
Sonnenfeld argued that the decision should be altered or vacated for multiple reasons, including that Weitzman didn't reach his conclusion from the essence of the agency agreement. Otero disagreed, noting that UTA was entitled to commissions for "direct or indirect renewals."
"Men in Black 3," which was released in May, has grossed more than $621 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.
The Hollywood Reporter first reported on Judge Otero's decision.