June 26, 2008 / 9:49 PM / 9 years ago

US documentary maker seeks damages over Oscar film

By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK, June 26 (Reuters) - Filmmaker Alex Gibney said on Thursday he was seeking more than $1 million in damages from a company he says failed to properly distribute and promote his Oscar-winning feature documentary "Taxi to the Dark Side."

The movie focuses on America’s use of torture in prisoner interrogations at Guantanamo Bay and in Iraq and Afghanistan following the Sept. 11 attacks.

It had made around $280,000 worldwide by June 1, according to movie Web site Box Office Mojo, a fraction of the multimillion dollar takings of other recent documentary Oscar winners.

The 2006 winner "An Inconvenient Truth" raked in almost $50 million worldwide, while 2005 winner "March of the Penguins" made more than $127 million, the Web site said.

Gibney said he has filed for arbitration against the film’s distributor THINKFilm, accusing the company of inadequately distributing and marketing the film after its Oscar win in February.

Financial problems within the company has also caused the film’s Web site to shut down, he told Reuters.

"We won, we did it, and then not to capitalize on that moment so that a lot of people could hear that message was devastating," Gibney said.

A spokesperson for THINKFilm could not be immediately reached for comment.

Gibney, who previously directed "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room," said he was originally mystified about the lack of post-Oscar promotion.

"Their whole strategy was predicated on the idea that if we win the Oscar, we would kick into gear," he said. "But we could not kick into gear because THINKFilm was out of money, they were being starved by their financier. But they did not disclose that to us."

Gibney’s company, X-Ray Productions, filed the complaint last week with the Independent Film & Television Alliance, an industry organization that arbitrates such disputes. (Editing by Xavier Briand)



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