Music publisher Sony/ATV has been slammed with a $100 million lawsuit over a documentary about the Beatles’ first concert, according to court papers obtained by TheWrap.
The Beatles’ Apple Corps Limited is also listed as a defendant in the lawsuit.
Ace Arts claims that Sony/ATV sabotaged its film “The Beatles: The Lost Concert” by asserting “spurious copyright infringement threats with respect” to the film, which explores “the inital impact of the Beatles in America from the vantage point of the group’s first concert, held on February 11, 1964 in Washington, D.C.”
According to the suit, filed in U.S. district court in New York last week, the company that filmed the concert allowed the film to be transferred without copyright protection, and that no copyright was ever filed on the performances, putting them in the public domain.
However, Sony/ATV — which owns rights to a number of Beatles songs — allegedly ruined a distribution deal that ACE struck with Screenvision at the 11th hour before the premiere of the film by making false allegations to Screenvision about Ace’s rights to the material. According to the lawsuit, the false claims caused Screenvision to exit the distribution deal, and for theaters to cancel showings.
According to the suit, the box office gross for the film “was reasonably projected to be over $50 million.”
A spokesman for Sony/ATV declined comment to TheWrap.
Ace Arts is seeking damages “in the sum of at least $100,000,000.”
The company had previously filed suit over the film in California, though that suit was dismissed.
By Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.