On Sunday, January 25, the 21st Screen Actors Guild Awards honored the film ‘Birdman’ with the most coveted award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture (Best Ensemble). Since Sunday, the film has attracted immense attention but people are talking about more than just the award. It appears that the Worldview Entertainment, one of the film’s principle financers, is in the midst of battling multiple lawsuits with former employees.

Former Worldview CFO, Hoyt David Morgan, is currently suing the company for lack of credit given to him in the film. He is also suing the company for additional money that he claims he is owed. According to the suit, Morgan claims that as part of his separation agreement he was promised “an executive producer credit” for ‘Birdman’. He also claims that he is owed around $2.7 million for breach of contract and the value of the denied credit. This case is currently active in the New York Supreme Court. In December 2014, the judge issued an order temporarily freezing the revenue payouts to some of the film’s investors. It was scheduled that the judge would reconsider the order on January 30, 2015 to determine if a permanent injunction was necessary.

Worldview has defended itself by claiming that ex-CEO, Christopher Woodrow, secretly agreed to Morgan’s separation agreement without the board of directors’ consent. In October 2014, Worldview brought a lawsuit against Woodrow “claiming he ‘embezzled and defrauded’ the film company and left it ‘impoverished and imperiled.’” Woodrow has not taken the lawsuit lightly. In fact, he has counter-sued the company for $55 million. Woodrow claims that Worldview hacked his personal bank accounts and also claims misconduct by the board of directors.

Although one of its principal investors remains heavily involved in lawsuits, ‘Birdman’ has experienced tremendous success thus far. In addition to the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Ensemble, the film was also the Producers Guild Award winner for Best Picture. In addition, ‘Birdman’ has nine Academy Award Nominations, including nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director. Finally, the film has grossed over $30 million at the Box Office thus far. So while the legal troubles are definitely attracting attention, they do not seem to be hindering the film’s success.

Sara Hunter

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