Crew members and vendors on the thwarted Gerard Butler thriller “Motor City” are angry that two months after the production abruptly shut down they still have not been paid about $500,000 in overdue bills.
According to documents obtained by TheWrap, “Motor City”s’ debts range from sums as low as $50 to nearly six figures.
Among other outstanding bills are more than $88,000 owed to the city of Atlanta, $22,000 to second-unit director Charles Parish, $8,434 to Sycamore Communications Corporation, $2,200 to Congo Transportation Company and $555 to Burban Rentals.
“In 10 years working as a union employee in this business, this has never happened to me before, and I haven’t contacted my union because I naively assumed it would work itself out," J.P. Jones, a property master who is owed $5,000 for his work on “Motor City,” told TheWrap. "Because of the reputations and everything involved, I thought they’d do the right thing.”
Financed by producer Emmett/Furla, production on "Motor City" ended last summer when backing for the revenge thriller fell through with two weeks to go before cameras started rolling. Joel Silver’s Dark Castle was also producing and Warner Bros. was set to distribute.
People associated with the production claim that for the last two months, Emmett/Furla has ignored calls or tried to shift blame for the delinquency on other production entities. But Randall Emmett, co-founder of Emmett/Furla, said he was not ducking bills.
"Nobody’s dodging anything," Emmett (pictured at right, above) told TheWrap. "Anybody can say they're owed whatever they want when a movie shuts down. We've got to protect our money, because it's real money, and it means something to us. But everything will be paid off before the end of the year."
Emmett said that the company has already spent $2.8 million on the production and still hopes to resurrect the film next year. The plug was pulled on production when it became clear the film could not meet the release date, he said.
It seems unlikely Emmett/Furla would have trouble paying the outstanding bills. The company recently announced more than $500 million in new funding from Envision Entertainment and is readying a string of big-budget projects, such as the Russell Crowe and Mark Wahlberg film “Broken City” and Peter Berg’s Seal Team drama “Lone Survivor.”
The company, which has previously backed films like "Rambo" and "End of Watch," also recently unveiled high-profile deals with the likes of Hasbro and launched a new television unit.
Emmett promised that everyone would be made whole. "The vendors are frustrated, as are we, that the movie is not going forward,” he said. "It's upsetting to everybody, and it's unfortunate. But the financial part of it will be handled and people will be paid."
It is not necessarily uncommon for bills to be delayed when pictures are shut down. But vendors who spoke to TheWrap were worried they would never get paid. Some crew members are going through their unions to get payment.
Southern Picture Cars’ Treasurer Robyn Taylor said she is ready to go to court over the $53,355 her company is owed for its transportation work, while Sandeman Executive Cars’ office manager Diane Craik said she has filed suit in small claims court over the $2,500 she’s due for ferrying crew to and from the Los Angeles airport.
“I kept calling the office, and they’d say someone would get back to me, but they never did,” Craik said. “It’s a small percentage of what they owe, but to us it’s a lot of money.”
She said that when she finally reached Emmett/Furla executive Brandon Grimes, he told her that checks had been written but were not funded yet.
“It’s really funny because Gerard Butler, he lives on our street, and my husband said maybe we should put a note on his door,” Craik said.