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Oscar front-runner 12 Years a Slave is at the center of a dispute between Paramount Pictures and Brad Pitt’s production company Plan B.

According to Hollywood Reporter, the feud “arises from Paramount’s belief that executives at Plan B breached the company’s deal with the studio by failing to offer Paramount a chance to finance and distribute the movie.” Instead, the Steve McQueen-directed film was co-financed and distributed by New Regency via Fox Searchlight.

Sources say “Pitt is free to accept roles in films at other studios and take a producing credit without cutting in Paramount. But the studio’s position is that Pitt’s company must give Paramount an opportunity to come in on projects that Plan B develops.” And seeing how Paramount Pictures chairman Brad Grey is a co-founder of Plan B, we can see how this could create a conflict of interest and breach of contract.

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A source with knowledge of the situation speculates that Plan B may have bypassed Paramount because 12 Years was coming together just as tensions between the banner and the studio were at a fever pitch over the troubled production of Plan B’s World War Z. Eventually the third act of the zombie film had to be reconceived and reshot. While the picture eventually grossed $540 million worldwide and Paramount escaped the write-down that some industry observers had predicted, the film did not generate the profit that a studio would desire from a costly tentpole.

THR reports that Grey, who launched Plan B with Pitt and his then-wife Jennifer Aniston in 2002, believes he “was deliberately misled about the project.”

Grey and Paramount declined to comment on the matter but we will keep you updated as more details arise.

12 Year A Slave, a historical drama based on the real-life memoir of Solomon Northup, is in theaters now.


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