Private, Bluebird Films Distribution Deal Goes Sour

Ariana Rodriguez
LOS ANGELES — Bluebird Films parent company Eyeworld said it has filed a $1 million suit against Fraserside Holdings, an affiliate of Private, because Fraserside refuses to acknowledge the termination of a joint venture agreement that allowed it worldwide distribution of Bluebird’s content.

“Unfortunately, instead of accepting the fact that both sides terminated the deal, we are in litigation,” Eyeworld Chairman Paul Chaplin said. “After we filed suit for money damages and dissolution in San Francisco, Fraserside filed a baseless and inadequate lawsuit in Los Angeles against Bluebird. We are confident that both Eyeworld and Bluebird will prevail in this litigation, and Fraserside’s baseless claims will be dismissed."

The deal was inked in September; however a Bluebird Films press release issued today said a few months into the relationship, the parties mutually agreed to part ways.

“Both Eyeworld and Private terminated the joint venture,” Bluebird America CEO Nicholas Steele said. “Bluebird is now handling worldwide distribution on all platforms directly."

Chaplin said termination of the joint venture was based upon “numerous breaches of Fraserside,” and that in response Fraserside agreed to end the relationship.

James Moran, Private’s in-house legal counsel, told XBIZ that Bluebird America’s claim of its termination of exclusive distribution agreement with Fraserside is “wishful thinking.”

Moran noted an unsigned letter sent from Bluebird, however not on company letterhead, sent on Feb. 25, purporting to terminate the agreement. However, Moran said any such termination was contrary to the terms of the agreement and was ineffective.

“Fraserside sent a formal letter on March 16 and specifically stated, ‘Notwithstanding your comments made in previous correspondence, we maintain that the joint venture management agreement and all terms of the output agreement and the exploitation agreement that place specific duties on the relevant parties, remain in full force and effect,’” Moran said.

Today, Bluebird issued a press release maintaining that the termination of the deal was mutual.

“This is the complete opposite of the clear words of the letter,” Moran said, referring to the March 16 letter to Bluebird.

Moran said, “Fraserside maintains the exclusive distribution agreement remains in full force and effect and expects Bluebird and its affiliates to honor the terms of the agreement. In particular, Fraserside expects Bluebird not to attempt to re-license its content anywhere else.”