Judge: Paris Hilton doesn’t owe $8m for movie flop
MIAMI — The verdict is in: Even if Paris Hilton’s film “Pledge This!” bombed big-time, she won’t have to fork over $8.3 million sought by movie investors because of it.
Still, the 28-year-old entertainer, model and businesswoman isn’t completely out of the woods. She may have to cough up some of the $1 million fee she got for the 2006 college sorority romp.
The film’s investors had sued for $8.3 million in damages — or roughly what they spent to produce the film, arguing it would have earned at least that much at the box office with proper promotion by Paris. The lawsuit claimed Hilton didn’t live up to her contract by failing to promote the movie’s DVD release, dooming it to financial ruin.
U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno ruled against the investors on the damages issue, saying that “one never knows how much a movie may make.”
“Pledge This!” played in just 25 theaters and made only about $2.9 million worldwide, according to court documents.
At a trial in July, Hilton testified she did all she could to plug the movie. She contended that the movie’s producers were amateurs and made last-minute demands for appearances that conflicted with her hyper-busy schedule.
Moreno agreed in his decision dated Monday.
“The court finds compelling evidence in the record that ‘Pledge This!’ lost money because the film’s inexperienced producers hastily cobbled together a wholly inadequate marketing plan,” the judge wrote. “They sent scattershot requests to their principal star in the hopes that she could find time to promote a sinking ship.”
Even if Hilton wasn’t enthusiastic about the movie and her handlers ignored promotion requests, Moreno said there was no way to prove a link between Hilton’s promotion efforts and the $8.3 million in damages.
Moreno said he would entertain arguments from the investors that Hilton should still be forced to repay a portion of her $1 million fee for promotion and acting in the film’s lead role. More legal arguments will be filed on that issue in the coming weeks, focusing on how much of the fee was based on plugging the film.
“We are grateful for the judge’s time and thoughtful consideration of the issues in this case,” said Hilton attorney Michael Weinsten in an e-mail Tuesday.
Michael Goldberg, court-appointed receiver for the movie investors who filed the lawsuit, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.