MGM and LaMotta go toe to toe over 'Raging Bull' sequel
LEGAL punches have been flying this week between the makers of a low-budget sequel to the classic 1980 biopic 'Raging Bull', made by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro -- with the studio that made the original, MGM, asking the courts that production be halted and the project binned.
In the ring with MGM is Jake LaMotta, the 90-year-old former boxing legend on whose rise and fall in the 1950s the 'Raging Bull' epic was based, and the production company he has tied himself to make 'Raging Bull II'. It is appropriately called RBII Production.
Filming is already almost completed with a cast that includes Paul Sorvino, Joe Mantegna and the character actor William Forsythe.
The suit, filed in a Los Angeles court this week, asserts that Mr LaMotta remains under a contractual obligation to offer first refusal for the rights to his book, 'Raging Bull II', which he co-wrote in 1986 as a follow up to his original autobiography, to MGM. It wants a jury to order a halt to production and to prevent distribution of the new film, assuming it ever gets finished.
For Mr LaMotta the suit is clearly an unwelcome blow. "How can you fight a company that big?" he complained to the 'New York Post'.
MGM is seeking the rights to the follow-up book and monetary damages.
Should the court action succeed, it isn't clear that the loss to cinema fans -- including those who still recall being stirred by the first 'Raging Bull' and Mr De Niro's acting in it -- will be big.
The director has been identified by 'Entertainment Weekly' as Martin Guigui, whose portfolio includes 'My X-Girlfriend's Wedding Reception' and 'National Lampoon's Cattle Call', a record, the magazine sarcastically observed, that "makes him the ideal guy to helm a sequel to one of the great films of the 20th century".
Mr LaMotta, who is being played by Mr Forsythe in the new film, told the 'New York Post' it had a modest budget by Hollywood standards -- $13m (€10.5m) -- and was almost ready for editing. He blamed the producers for failing to settle the matter before starting to shoot. (© Independent News Service)