Mel Gibson filed a lawsuit Monday against Voltage Pictures, alleging that the company has breached its agreement to produce “The Professor and the Madman.”
Gibson has been developing the project for years, which is based on the Simon Winchester book about the making of the Oxford English Dictionary. Gibson plays the professor, James Murray, who oversaw the creation of the dictionary, while Sean Penn plays the madman — William Chester Minor — who contributed 10,000 entries from an asylum for the criminally insane.
Gibson alleges that Voltage has failed to abide by the terms of the production agreement by refusing to allow important scenes to be shot in Oxford, England. Gibson also alleges that Voltage failed to develop a final budget, never secured a completion bond, and did not complete an agreement with director Farhad Safinia. In addition, Gibson alleges that his production company was not fully reimbursed for expenses, has not been paid its full producer fee, and has been denied its right of first negotiation for the Australian distribution of the film.
According to the suit, the contract gives Gibson the right to choose between Voltage’s cut and Safinia’s cut. But Safinia was prevented from shooting the full screenplay and has been unable to complete a cut, Gibson alleges.
The suit also claims that Voltage showed a portion of the film to distributors at the Cannes Film Festival, and has been screening the film in L.A. County, in violation of Gibson’s right to select the final cut.
Voltage CEO Nicolas Chartier was traveling Monday and was not immediately available for comment.