‘Killer Elite’ Producer Hit with $50K Fraud, Breach of Contract Suit

A film executive claims the movie’s producers have reneged on an agreement of credit and fee for helping shepherd the upcoming Jason Statham/Clive Owen film to the big screen

Palomar Pictures and producer Sigurjon Sighvatsson have been slapped with a breach of contract suit by a film executive who claims he’s owed credit and money for his work on the upcoming action film “Killer Elite.”

(The film is not a remake of Sam Peckinpah's 1974 movie "The Killer Elite.")

 In a suit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Jay Burnley, a former development executive for Sighvatsson, says he helped shepherd the Jason Statham and Clive Owen film to the big screen. In return, he says he was promised a co-producer’s credit and a $50,000 fee for his seven years of work, but the film’s producers never made good on his deal.

Burnley says there was an oral contract in place, but that Sighvatsson refused to sign a written agreement. At one point, Sighvatsson screamed at Burnley, according to the complaint, telling him he would not give the producing credit or pay the fee.

Soon after Burnley obtained a lawyer, Sighvatsson fired him via email.

“Burnley spent seven years working diligently with Gary McKendry, a writer/director, Matt Sherring, a writer, and the defendants to successfully adapt ‘The Feather Men’ into a viable motion-picture script and project later entitled ‘Killer Elite,'" the suit reads. "Burnley’s seven years of work on the Picture greatly exceeded the tasks required of him as the defendants’ development executive."

In addition, Burnley is also charging Sighvatsson and Palomar with fraud, saying they never intended to honor the contract, holding out a false promise of future compensation and credit.

According to Burnley's suit, he met repeatedly with the director and writer, supervised script revisions, helped secure talent for the film, shopped the screenplay, advised on casting and engaged in “story calls” with the film’s Australian producers. 

"Killer Elite" hits theaters on Sept. 23, 2011. In addition to Owen and Statham, Robert De Niro co-stars. Open Road is handling domestic distribution.

“The lawsuit speaks for itself, and I’m completely confident Jay will vindicated,” Jordan Susman, an attorney for Burnley, told TheWrap.

Sighvatsson could not be reached for comment.

In addition to the credit and damages, Burnley is seeking attorneys’ fees.

Besides “Killer Elite,” Sighvatsson was a producer on films such as “Brothers” and “K-19: The Widowmaker.” 

Burnley is an employee of ItsOnTheGrid.com, a subsidiary of TheWrap.