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Musicians' union sues Warner Bros., Paramount and MGM over outsourcing

Musicians' union sues Warner Bros., Paramount and MGM over outsourcing

The dispute between Hollywood musicians and major studios over the outsourcing of musical scoring is now shifting to the courts.

The American Federation of Musicians has sued Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, alleging the studios violated a 2010 collective bargaining agreement requiring that films produced in North America must also be scored in North America.

The suit, filed in federal court in Los Angeles on Friday, said the studios breached the agreement by outsourcing scoring work on “Interstellar,” which was produced by Warner Bros. and Paramount; Warner’s “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island”; and MGM's “Robocop” and “Carrie” films.

"Interstellar," "Carrie" and "Robocop" were scored in Britain; "Journey 2" was scored in Papa New Guinea and Australia, according to the lawsuit.  Composer Hans Zimmer received on Oscar nomination for his score on "Interstellar."

Warner, Paramount and MGM declined to comment.

The union is seeking damages for losses incurred by union members. It also wants a court order requiring the studios to make "appropriate contributions" to health benefit funds.

The AFM represents some 80,000 professional musicians in the United States and Canada, including many hundreds of studio recording musicians who work to score motion pictures.

The lawsuit is just the latest dust-up between the AFM and studios.

The American Federation of Musicians has previously organized rallies against Marvel Studios for hiring London musicians to work on such movies as "The Avengers" and "Iron Man 3" even though those films were shot in the United States.

Last year, the union singled out Lionsgate, protesting the studio's decision to hire foreign musicians to play music on such movies as "The Hunger Games" that filmed in U.S. with the support of taxpayer subsidies.

The AFM is facing a tough task, however.

Musicians traditionally could count on film work being done in L.A. even when a movie was filmed elsewhere because of the high level of talent here.

But more production is leaving the state as studios take advantage of tax benefits and rebates that aren't available in California.

The number of movie scoring jobs has declined at least 50% in the last five years, the union said last year.

Twitter: @rverrier

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