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"Passion" Writer Claims He Was Stiffed

2/11/2008 7:10 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF

The man who wrote the movie "The Passion of the Christ" is suing Mel Gibson, claiming the director short-changed him by saying it would be a small film -- and not the big budget, big bucks flick it turned out to be.
Read the docs
According to papers filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court, Benedict Fitzgerald claims that Gibson's "personal gift to his faith" was to have a budget in the $4-7 million range -- and there wouldn't be a lot of money in the budget for the writer. He was also told several times by Gibson, he claims, that Gibson didn't plan to make any money from the film.

Instead, according to court documents, the flick cost almost $30 mil and Gibson made a fortune. The film grossed over $600 mil worldwide. Fitzgerald is suing for fraud and asking for damages in excess of $25,000.

Reps for the Mel's production company, Icon Productions, say the suit is "frivolous" and that Fitzgerald was "handsomely compensated."
35 COMMENTS

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1.

Professor Obvious    

Mel Gibson is an ass.

2413 days ago
2.

Michelle    

I love Mel Gibson. And this movie was AMAZING. What a gift. This world is so sue happy now-a-days.

2413 days ago
3.

JACK FROST    

That's the way movie makers operate. They are sleaze balls.

2413 days ago
4.

CoolGirl2008    

"Passion Of The Christ" was the best S&M film ever to come out. They play it at goth clubs!

2413 days ago
5.

dreamer    

Great movie, thanks Mel.

2413 days ago
6.

Carolyn A-B    

Sounds like the "Brokeback Mountain" defense:

Well, if I only knew then how much money the movie would earn, I'd have milked the producers for a lot more.

Expect a settlement.

2413 days ago
7.

Diana    

They can buff this up, but it is simply, an interest agreed upon in the beginning of a film that was not to be well received and ended up exceeding any reasonable expectation of the Gibson empire. He states that he just didn't want it to "destroy his career". This is a truthful indication of his expectations of the film. This writer is attempting to rewirte his original contract to exceed his agreed upon compesation. It is nothing more than that. Sad perhaps that he didnt write in a better clause on profits. But it is obvious ne did not. Gibson wins. A person's zeal for a project does not justify additional profits beyond his contract ones. Pitiful lawsuit.

2413 days ago
8.

TXLady    

If I'm remembering correctly (and if I'm not, I'm sure someone will point it out!!), Mel put up his own personal fortune to make this film after approaching numerous studios over a period of years and being turned down repeatedly. Nobody (even Mel) ever expected the movie to become the phenomenon that it became. To come back now and demand money is just absurd and I hope they make this all go away without paying him a single DIME!

2413 days ago
9.

Another stupid story by TMZ's uneducated chimpanzees    

If this is true, then it's potentially explosive. It would mean Mel lied to the writer 2 times; first when he said there was no money to pay him, and second when he claimed that he had no intention of making any money on the film. As we all know, Mel made something in the hundreds of millions of dollars in profits; the film had a HUGE budget. So, if that's the case, Mel may owe this guy millions of dollars. He'd be better off just paying the guy a couple of millions dollars just to go away...

2412 days ago
10.

Thirteenburn    

Lets see...

The movie in question came out in what, four years ago and now this writer is just now getting around to suing Gibson. While I have no dog in the fight, I do find it a bit strange that now that the writer's strike is for all intents and purposes, over now, I'm sure this writer needs money and needs it bad, ergo the lawsuit.

Pretty strange coincidence if you ask me...

2412 days ago
11.

Jim Clark    

On the face of it, it does sound frivolous. It sound like Benedict Fitzgerald is trying to get in Mr. Gibson's pocket, if he can. Mr. Fitzgerald was paid for his work whether or not the film was a success or failure. Would Mr. Gibson sue you if the film was a flop? I doubt it. Settle the writers strike, get a job, and quit whinning, Mr. Fitzgerald.

2412 days ago
12.

Kilmerfan    

This is why we need Tort reform. This suing for no reason is silly, Mel did not know if it was going to make a lot of money.


Got your monthly Mel bashing TMZ? Every month you got to bash him. You can set your clock on it.

Oy Vey!

2412 days ago
13.

Spell Check.    

Where's our cut?

2412 days ago
14.

hh    

Writers are not appreciated enough for their contributions: without their stories as the FOUNDATION of film and television, there would be no GOOD film or television! Do you want to watch "reality" tv all day?? Barf-o-rama. And no offense, but I think 'performers' get outrageous salaries and it's about time the BRAINS behind brilliant films/shows make a liveable wage too!! Screenwriters DON'T get paid as much as you might think!!! Not to mention they're lucky if their stories' core elements even survive for five minutes without being revised into some tacky, repetitive cinema slop! Respect the writers, throw them a frickin' bone already, Hollyweird!!!

2412 days ago
15.

Angelina    

Hmm, I wonder why the man waited almost four years to take such action. We've only heard one side of the story. Regardless, he, as a co-writer, should be appreciated and paid accordingly. Still, I'd wait to hear the whole issue before drawing conclusions.

2412 days ago
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