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Terry Gilliam Loses Latest Legal Fight Over ‘The Man Who Killed Don Quixote’

French court rules against ”Monty Python“ alum in dispute with former producer

Terry Gilliam’s latest legal battle over his passion project “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” has come to an end, and he’s been ordered to pay his former producer for breach of contract, The Hollywood Reporter reports.

This weekend, a French court ruled that Gilliam will have to pay €10,000 ($11,600) to Paulo Branco, the former producer on the movie who sued the “Monty Python” co-creator for breach of contract. Branco also sought an injunction to prevent “Don Quixote” from being released and from premiering at the Cannes Film Festival, though he was denied that request. Gilliam will therefore be able to distribute the film.

Gilliam argued that the contract was voided when Branco and his company, Alfama Films, failed to provide funding for the film’s production, giving him the right to find other producers for the project.

But Branco told Screen Daily that after this ruling, he will continue to seek legal action against the film’s new producers, French-based film company Kinology, as well as the film’s French distributor, Ocean Films, and even the Cannes Film Festival for premiering the film on its closing night last month.

“The ruling means that the rights to the film belong to Alfama. Any exploitation of the film up until now has been completely illegal and without the authorisation of Alfama,” said Branco. “We will be seeking damages with interest from all the people involved in this illegal production and above all, all those who were complicit in its illegal exploitation. We’re holding everyone responsible.”

Cannes, for its part, offered a stern official statement after Branco attempted to block the film’s premiere at the festival, noting that Branco had previously denounced the festival in a press conference a few years ago for breaking an alleged “promise to select” one of his films, something that Cannes said it never made.

In the statement, Festival President Pierre Lescure and General Delegate Thierry Frémaux also called Branco “a producer who has shown his true colours once and for all during this episode and who has threatened us, via his lawyer, with a ‘humiliating defeat’.”

“The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” was released wide in France the same weekend as its premiere in Cannes, and was set to be released in the rest of Europe next month. Amazon Studios had claimed the rights to distribute the film in the U.S., but dropped out after Branco sued.

The film stars Adam Driver as Toby Grisoni, a jaded advertising director who returns to the Spanish village where he made his student film based on Miguel De Cervantes’ famed literary tale “Don Quixote.” While there, he meets the shoemaker who played the titular character in his film (Jonathan Pryce), and who has since come to believe that he truly is Don Quixote come to life.

Believed by “Don” to be his comrade Sancho Panza, Toby is dragged into the shoemaker’s fantasy world and forced to grapple with the consequences of his film. The movie received mixed reviews from critics at Cannes, with some admiring the humor while others criticizing the plot and indulgent run time.

“The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” has earned cult status thanks to Gilliam’s repeated failed attempts to make the film over the course of 29 years. That long odyssey became the subject of a 2002 documentary “Lost in La Mancha.”

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