Weinstein Co. can add to its growing list of legal problems a cute little bear who is beloved by movie audiences around the world.
"Paddington 2" — the sequel to the popular 2015 movie — is the subject of a new court battle pitting Weinstein Co. against Entertainment One Films Canada, also known as EOne. In a complaint filed Thursday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, EOne alleges that Weinstein Co. failed to make the movie available to it for distribution in Canada by instead selling the rights to Warner Bros.
EOne contends in the filing that it had a distribution agreement with Weinstein Co. under which it would be able to release "Paddington 2" in Canada. The Toronto-based company also claims that it is now owed $7.2 million, which it said represents the outstanding balance of an advance to Weinstein Co.
"Paddington 2" was originally supposed to be released in the U.S. by Weinstein Co. through its TWC/Dimension label. But after the sexual harassment scandal that took down co-founder Harvey Weinstein, the New York-based company along with producer StudioCanal sold the North American distribution rights for the film to Warner Bros in November.
Weinstein Co. has been teetering on the verge of bankruptcy as it deals with mounting legal claims related to its co-founder's rampant misconduct toward women.
The Time Warner Inc.-owned Warner Bros. released "Paddington 2" in the U.S. and Canada on Jan. 12. The movie, which features the voice of actor Ben Whishaw as the Peruvian bear adopted by a London family, has so far grossed more than $192 million worldwide.
In its suit, EOne alleges that Weinstein Co. breached its contract by selling the Canadian rights to the movie to Warner Bros. EOne said that as a result of the broken agreement, it terminated its distribution deal with Weinstein Co. on Dec. 31.
EOne claims the agreement provides for a post-termination repayment of an advance that it paid to Weinstein Co., and that so far, Weinstein Co. has failed to repay the outstanding balance of $7.2 million.
The complaint also alleges that Bob Weinstein called a division president of EOne to apologize for the sale of "Paddington 2" to Warner Bros. and to acknowledge that Weinstein Co. would have to compensate EOne for the sale.
A spokesperson for Weinstein Co. didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
TWC/Dimension released the first "Paddington" movie in the U.S., while EOne distributed it in Canada.