HC issues summons to Netflix, co-producer of film Animal’ on plea to restrain OTT release

The Delhi High Court has issued summons to Super Cassettes and Netflix on a plea by Cine 1 Studios, a co-producer of Bollywood film “Animal”, seeking to restrain the release of the movie on digital streaming platforms and its satellite broadcast.

The movie, directed by Sandeep Reddy Vanga, was released in theatres on December 1, 2023 and is set to be released on Netflix on January 26.

The high court issued summons to Super Cassettes Industries Pvt Ltd, a co-producer of the film, and Cluver Max Entertainment Pvt Ltd (formerly known as Sony Pictures Networks Ltd) with whom an agreement was signed for granting of satellite rights of the film.

Justice Sanjeev Narula said the three defendants shall also file affidavits of admission or denial of the documents produced by the plaintiff, without which their written statements will not be taken on record.

“Thus, let the plaint be registered as a suit. Issue summons,” the high court said in its order passed on Thursday.

While Cine 1 Studios Pvt Ltd claimed a breach of agreement and said it was not paid a single penny, Super Cassettes contended Rs 2.6 crore was paid to the plaintiff which it did not disclose to the court.

However, Cine 1’s counsel argued that the document shown in this regard was allegedly “ex-facie forged and fabricated”.

The high court listed the matter before the Joint Registrar for completion of pleadings and marking of exhibits on March 15 and made clear that any party unjustifiably denying documents would be liable to be burdened with costs.

Regarding the plaintiff’s interim plea seeking a stay of the release of the movie on OTT platforms, digital and satellite platforms, the high court asked the defendants to file their replies January 20 and listed it for hearing submissions on January 22.

Senior advocate Sandeep Sethi, representing Cine 1 Studios, has said the plaintiff did not get any information about the revenue the film earned, its collection at the box office, the music, satellite or internet rights.

“They (Super Cassettes) have been collecting all the money but I have not been paid a single penny… I have a long relationship with them but they have no respect for the agreement. I had regard for the relationship and the sanctity of the contract, therefore, I did not rush to court,” he has submitted.

The plaint said the two production houses had entered into an agreement to produce the film. Under the agreement, Cine 1 claimed, it had a 35 per cent profit share and was entitled to 35 per cent intellectual property rights in the movie.

The plaint claimed without Cine 1’s approval, Super Cassettes incurred expenses for making/promoting/ releasing the film, received revenues from the box office sales but did not share the details with it. Super Cassettes also did not pay any money to the plaintiff despite the profit-share agreement. it claimed.

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Senior advocate Amit Sibal, representing Super Cassettes, has submitted that the plaintiff invested no money in the film and all expenses were borne by his client.

Apprising the judge of a document signed between the parties, he has contended the plaintiff concealed from the court that on August 2, 2022 it had given up all its intellectual property rights on the film.

“In the amended agreement, he (Cine 1) has deleted the clause where he got 35 per cent of intellectual property right in the film…. All this has been given up for consideration of Rs 2.6 crore for which he raised an invoice,” Sibal has said.

He has said this critical and material information was concealed from the court.

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