Legal action has been taken in Hong Kong to wind up Inversion Productions, a company controlled by Philip Lee and Markus Barmettler, executive producers of The Revenant.
The promotion is being conducted by Sun Entertainment Culture, a Hong Kong-based studio with mainland Chinese support.
A motion to disband Inversion Productions is due to be heard in Hong Kong’s High Court in February.
The lawsuit follows Sun’s attempt to recoup a film production loan originally granted to Inversion Productions (formerly known as TNC Productions) in late 2014 in connection with the project to make the ambitious indie sci-fi film Inversion.
Produced on a budget of $120 million, Inversion tells the story of a Chinese scientist and an American pilot who must work together to save the world when gravity suddenly vanishes.
The project was carried out by several partners, including Mark Damon’s Foresight Entertainment. It was formerly supposed to have been written by a team of writer, producer and director Paul Haggis, Bragi Schut, David Arata and Michael Finch. When Sun Entertainment went public with its involvement in the film in 2019, “Inversion” was described as being based on a screenplay by Golden Horse nominee Li Wei, who wrote Zhang Yimou’s “Shadow.” Travis Fimmel was reportedly linked to the star at one point, and producers are also said to have been in negotiations with Samuel L. Jackson.
Lee spoke on behalf of a company called Facing East Entertainment diversity in March 2019 that he and Barmettler had been trying to get the project off the ground for around seven years. Sun Entertainment said it expects to allocate a “significant portion” of the production budget.
In notarized communication with diversitySun Entertainment said it had provided Inversion Productions with an initial loan of $7.5 million, which was paid in four installments between December 2014 and February 2015. Another installment of $1 million was loaned by Sun Entertainment in March 2019, bringing the loan amount to $8.5 million.
Sun says Inversion Productions’ loans have not been repaid and the “Inversion” film has not been produced. In its resolution filing, Sun Entertainment says it is now entitled to $24.1 million, consisting of principal plus agreed interest and “arrears interest” at 4% per month. Sun’s petition states that Inversion Productions is insolvent and unable to pay its debts.
Although the matter has been discussed by Sun Entertainment and the Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption, diversity believes no criminal action has been taken in any jurisdiction other than civil liquidation. diversity has reached out to Lee, Sun Entertainment and ICAC for comment.
Sun Entertainment was founded in 2011 and has been involved in Hong Kong-Chinese co-productions such as Paradox (2017) and SPL II: A Time for Consequences (2015), starring Wu Jing. But after new tax regulations in 2018 rocked the film industry in mainland China, the company began to expand in a more international direction. Inversion, along with another feature film and TV series, was to be the company’s first move abroad.
Lee was associate producer on Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, line producer on Zhang Yimou’s Hero, and executive producer on Cloud Atlas and Assassin’s Creed.
Barmettler produced the 2008 Chinese film Purple Mountain and executive produced Conviction, Assassin’s Creed and The Captain.
https://variety.com/2022/biz/news/philip-lee-markus-barmettler-sued-inversion-sun-entertainment-1235466113/ Sun Entertainment is suing Philip Lee and Markus Barmettler’s inversion