A lawsuit between Smallville producers and Warner Bros. over potentially missing royalties has hit a bump in the road, with a judge ruling that the producers weren’t engaged in a joint venture with the studio at all.
As the Hollywood Reporter’s THR, Esq. blog explains, that decision knocks down one of the producers’ – in this case, series co-creators Miles Millar and Alfred Gough and production company Tollin/Robbins Prods – three main claims, for feduciary duty. Judge Michael Johnson has ruled that, because Millar/Gough and Tollin/Robbins weren’t contractually obligated to share in any financial risk should Smallville have failed, they were not in a true partnership or joint venture with Warners at all. Unsurprisingly, Warners is happy with the decision, with lead attorney Scott Edelman telling the press:
This is an important development in the case. The plaintiffs tried to establish a joint venture and a fiduciary relationship where none existed. We look forward to trying the case on the merits and are gratified by the judge’s ruling.
Still at stake, the issues of whether Warners breached good faith agreements concerning the distribution of royalties for the hugely successful series, as well as whether contracts were also breached. The case continues.