Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Sony settles phony critic lawsuit

A U.S. court has finalized a settlement between Sony Pictures and movie fans who accused the studio of creating a non-existent movie critic for ads.

Sony Pictures Entertainment must pay $1.5 million US to settle the class-action lawsuit originally filed in 2001 by two irate California moviegoers, who accused the studio of inventing a bogus movie reviewer to praise some of its films.

Sony reached the out-of-court agreement to settle the case and avoid the cost and uncertainty of litigation, according to a court notice.

According to Norman Blumenthal, the lawyer representing the movie fans, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carolyn Kuhl approved the decision in late July.

U.S. filmgoers who saw Vertical Limit, A Knight's Tale, The Animal, Hollow Man or The Patriot during their original theatrical runs can file a claim to be eligible for a reimbursement of $5 per ticket, Blumenthal told the Associated Press Tuesday.

Any funds remaining after claims are satisfied would go to charity, he said.

Sony Pictures, which declined comment, did not admit any liability under terms of the settlement.

The movie fans brought the lawsuit and accused the studio of misleading audiences after reports surfaced that critic David Manning, who was attributed with writing glowing reviews for films like Hollow Man and A Knight's Tale, did not exist.

Sony publicity blurbs said that Manning worked for the Ridgefield Press. However, the weekly Connecticut newspaper said there was no critic by that name in its employ.

When the ploy was uncovered, the studio conducted an internal investigation and suspended two of its executives. Sony said at the time that it would monitor more closely its publicity and advertising campaigns.


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