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Why ‘Noah’ can’t dock his ark at Philippine theaters

By: - Reporter
/ 12:15 AM April 20, 2014

JENNIFER Connelly (left) and Russell Crowe in the Darren Aronofsky film “Noah”

It could take more than 40 days and 40 nights for the multimillion dollar Hollywood movie “Noah” to dock its ark in Philippine theaters.

The Darren Aronofsky film, about the biblical character Noah’s mission to save the whole of creation from a great flood, was originally set for local release April 2.

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However, the Russell Crowe-starrer became the first casualty in a courtroom battle between its producer United International Pictures (UIP) and local film distributor Solar Entertainment Corporation.

Bad faith

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The Makati City Regional Trial Court has prohibited the distribution of UIP films in the country after the US firm allegedly violated its agreement with Solar, its local partner. Last month, Solar filed a civil suit seeking an injunction and damages from UIP and competing film distribution outfit Columbia Pictures Industries Inc. This was in relation to the alleged decision of UIP to appoint Columbia Pictures as its Philippine film distributor starting February 2014.

In its complaint, Solar maintained that its 2012 film distribution agreement with UIP was still in effect and that “UIP’s arbitrary and unilateral termination of said agreement was done in bad faith.” It added that the move would “cause revenue losses to Solar and subject it to third-party claims by business suppliers and partners for contracts it entered in UIP’s behalf.”

Prohibited

Solar likewise pointed out that UIP’s appointment of Columbia Pictures, “a 100-percent foreign-owned mass media company operating in the Philippines, is in violation of the Foreign Investment Acts of 1991 (RA No. 7042 as amended by RA No. 8179) that prohibits foreign-owned companies from engaging in mass media in the country.”

In a memorandum, a copy of which was obtained by the Inquirer, Solar advised its partners and suppliers of the “ongoing injunction case” and informed them that a 20-day temporary restraining order (TRO) was issued against UIP and Columbia Pictures in March by Makati RTC presiding judge Edgardo M. Caldona.

Put on hold

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According to the memo signed by Solar legal counsel Valerie Domantay, the TRO prohibited UIP and Columbia from committing the following acts, which could violate the existing agreement between Solar and UIP: “Entering into a film distribution agreement with any entity in the Philippines; and engaging in mass media activities, specifically distributing, marketing, promoting and showing of UIP films in the country.”

The memo also stressed the “status of [Solar] as the exclusive local distributor of UIP films.”

“The TRO expired on March 27 and has temporarily put on hold release plans of films by UIP and Paramount Pictures in the Philippines,” explained a Solar insider. Paramount Pictures, one of UIP’s parent companies, is the global distributor of “Noah.”

Columbia representatives declined to comment on the matter.

(E-mail mcruz@inquirer.com.ph)

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TAGS: Noah, Restraining Order, Russell Crowe, United International Pictures
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