Kylin Pictures, a China-based production and film finance company that is suing distributor Bliss Media over the latter’s removal of Kylin’s credit from the Chinese theatrical version of “Hacksaw Ridge,” filed a separate motion Tuesday to dismiss defamation charges leveled by Bliss in the wake of the credit dispute.
Bliss sued Kylin in Los Angeles Superior Court in January, accusing the company of defamation over statements its CFO Leo Shi Young made at a press conference and reprinted in Chinese media calling Bliss CEO Wei Han a “swindler,” among other less-than-flattering terms. Kylin filed an anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) motion to dismiss the complaint Tuesday, claiming Bliss’ suit was an attempt to chill Kylin’s free speech in violation of a California law.
The comments were made in China — a country without free speech protections — but published in the United States and elsewhere. Kylin’s attorneys claim the suit falls under the anti-SLAPP statute because it meets the provisions of affecting a large number of people beyond the direct participants and being “a topic of widespread, public interest.”
Young spoke to TheWrap last month to explain the dispute, in which Kylin’s credit appeared during the opening sequence of “Hacksaw Ridge” in countries like the U.S. and Australia, but was missing from the Chinese version, where Bliss was handling distribution. Kylin and Bliss have history together, as the two were involved in a lawsuit last year concerning the Bruce Lee movie “Birth of the Dragon.”
“We have a problem with Bliss because we did work with them before,” he said at the time. “There probably were some bad feelings in there, which is why they decided to remove our credit.”
A spokesperson for Bliss Media called the motion “meritless” in a statement provided to TheWrap.
“We have not yet reviewed the motion but have little doubt that it is meritless,” the statement said. “There is no question that the statements made by Kylin’s executives were defamatory, with Bliss filing suits in both China and California. The statements may initially have been made in China but they have been picked up and have appeared on numerous websites around the world. Kylin does business in California, including having sought the assistance of California courts to redress its purported grievances, and it should not be permitted to go to China to spew defamatory statements and then claim protected speech.”
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.