“Birdman” producer Worldview Entertainment was sued on Wednesday by its former CEO Christopher Woodrow, who is seeking $55 million and liquidation of the company.
Worldview principals Maria Cestone, Sarah Johnson and Molly Conners were named in the lawsuit. It follows a lawsuit that accused the former CEO of embezzlement.
The legal mess around the independent film company comes the very week that Oscar contender “Birdman,” released by Fox Searchlight, debuts in theaters. Woodrow is an executive producer on the film.
Woodrow exited the company in May 2014 in circumstances that have never been clarified.
Woodrow said in a statement that he had been unjustly smeared. “I have stood by patiently and quietly over the last four and a half months while baseless and meritless claims were made against me, often publicly,” said his statement.
“With the filing of this lawsuit against Worldview Entertainment and its principals today, I am happy and relieved to know that my story will finally be heard in a court of law and the truths pertaining to the operation of Worldview will come to light. It’s a shame that Worldview’s most successful film to date, BIRDMAN, a legitimate Oscar contender, is being released the same week that we find ourselves engaged in a lawsuit. Instead of directing our attention, focus, and resources toward this amazing film, we are instead engaged in a legal battle. It’s all very unfortunate considering that my design for Worldview from the onset was to make profitable and relevant films.”
The lawsuit was filed in New York.
In the lawsuit, Woodrow claims that he was accused of misappropriating funds when he was suspended in May 2014, but never given the details. He claims that his producer credit has been removed from Worldview’s upcoming movies, including “Triple 9,” “Tulip Fever” and Warren Beatty‘s upcoming film, as yet untitled.
On Friday, Worldview filed a lawsuit against Woodrow, accusing him of having “embezzled and defrauded” the company, leaving it “impoverished and imperiled.” The lawsuit accused Woodrow of taking an unauthorized salary and misappropriating funds.