Mel Gibson has been slowly working on a comeback of sorts thanks to popular films like the recent Hacksaw Ridge. However, now the actor’s latest project is embroiled in a lawsuit because Gibson has filed one. The movie in question is called The Professor and the Madman and it follows the origins of the Oxford English Dictionary. In addition to starring in the film, Mel Gibson’s Icon Productions is one of the studios producing the film, and it’s in that capacity that Gibson, and his partner Bruce Davey, have sued Voltage Pictures, one of the other production partners.
According to the lawsuit (via Deadline), Icon is accusing Voltage Pictures of not abiding by the terms of the production contract. Specifically, Voltage Pictures allegedly never submitted a final budget for the production, and made changes to the shooting schedule, including not having key scenes filmed in Oxford, England, as the lawsuit claims had been previously agreed. In addition, one accusation of the lawsuit that seems supremely ironic, Voltage was responsible for selecting a completion guarantor, somebody who was responsible for making final decisions when the two production companies could not agree. Voltage did not do this according to the suit. The lawsuit is seeking compensatory and punitive damages to be awarded, as well as for the films rights to revert exclusively to Icon Productions.
The end result of the changes made by Voltage Pictures, according to the suit, is that director Farhad Safinia was prevented from completing a version of the film based on the agreed upon screenplay. This in turn meant the director could not produce a cut of the film to be reviewed by Mel Gibson, who had the final say on the film’s theatrical cut.
Needless to say, this is all pretty messy. The lawsuit refers to The Professor and the Madman as a labor of love for Mel Gibson and his production partner, and if they care that deeply for this particular project then certainly they’re unhappy with all these issues. The movie had an unspecified 2017 release date but if the edit is having as many issues as the lawsuit claims, it could certainly need to be pushed back.
The Professor and the Madman will star Mel Gibson as Professor James Murray, the man who began to compile words for the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary in 1857. Sean Penn will play the “madman” of the title, Dr. William Chester Minor, who submitted more than 10,000 entries for the dictionary, all while being committed to an asylum for the criminally insane.
There will almost certainly be more to follow as this lawsuit moves through the court system. Keep reading CinemaBlend for more details as they emerge.