Black Water Transit cleared customs?
I remember looking forward to the thriller Black Water Transit when it was announced that Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson were going to lead, and that was after the Vin Diesel, Kevin Bacon, James Franco and Sophie Okonedo were all knocked off the project. I even bought the book and was excited by the story.
Now it's been almost three years since the film was made, and yes completed, the cast have changed, the film shown at Cannes, and still we haven't seen it released. The reason why is money and law suits, plenty of them in fact, and the latest has just been settled. Does this mean we'll get to see the film after all?
The most recent law suit, before we go into a quick history of the major court cases associated with the production, sees the producer and distributer David Bergstein as head of Capitol Films and other companies, sued by Ascendant Pictures for breaching their contract and throwing them off the production without paying them the agreed producer's fees.
This latest suit, according to The Hollywood Reporter, was for some US $1.3 million, and was due to be heard in court last week. However days before it was due a settlement was reached, a settlement that Bergstein was personally hammering out with the lawyers over the holiday period.
Does this mean that we'll get to see Black Water Transit finally? Perhaps not, for even as this case was being settled another was being raised by a print advertising company for US $50,000. It doesn't sound that bad, until you look back on the behind the scenes production.
According to the article it was Bergstein who rejected delivery of the film because "he considered it unreleasable", a statement that would seemingly kill the chances of us ever seeing the film.
He then tried to recover the budget of the film from the completion bond company, a budget that had moved well over the intended mark. That was settled out of court too.
Then the insurance carrier for the film sued Capitol Films, Bergstein's company, asking a court to ensure that they weren't required to cover any losses on the film.
Next up Bergstein's insurance broker sued the film's insurance company for some US $20 million to recover losses on the film, mainly around the fact that they had not covered the film for the loss of budget when an accident meant that Samuel L. Jackson could not participate in the film.
Hold on though, things aren't done yet. Capitol Films was then sued by the hedge fund company who had provided Bergstein and his partner Ron Tutor with the money to buy Capitol Films, ThinkFilm and other acquisitions as well as to make films between 2004 and 2007. They were looking for some US $120 million.
Then, just before the request to dismiss the latest case came, the print advertising company weighed in. These are not happy times for Bergstein, his companies, and the people they employ, but for the audience it's not a good time for Black Water Transit.
After the casting dust settled it was Laurence Fishburne and Stephen Dorff taking the leads for the adaptation of the Carsten Stroud novel (Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com) which follows Jack Vermillion, played by Laurence Fishburne and previously played by Samuel L. Jackson, a man who wants to try and get his son moved from a maximum security prison. To do this the authorities want something in exchange, and when he is approached by Earl Pike, played by Karl Urban and previously played by Bruce Willis, to move his rather large personal gun collection overseas, Vermillion passes it to the feds. However, the arrest goes terribly wrong and people are left dead on both sides. Now both Pike and the authorities are after Vermillion.
The film was directed by Tony Kaye and set in post-hurricane New Orleans, so it wasn't a small film, although it may turn out to be that way now.
I remember that after I heard about the film I read the book and was taken in by the tension and drive of the story, just wishing that there was more of it, and I did think that it would make for an excellent film. Even with the slightly downgraded cast, Black Water Transit looked good, especially from Kaye. Yet to hear that it was refused by the distributor and the legal wranglings since, perhaps it's not as good as the book, cast and director would lead us to believe, and what does it matter anyway, will we ever get to see it?