Opera Singer Wins ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’ Writing Credit After Court Battle – Update

Tom Grater
·4 min read

UPDATED with producer’s statement, 9.50 AM PT: Florence Foster Jenkins producers Pathe and Qwerty Films have issued a response to Monday’s court verdict that saw opera singer Julia Kogan granted a co-writer credit on the movie and compensation.

“We regret that Julia Kogan’s dispute with Nick Martin over authorship of the screenplay for Florence Foster Jenkins could not be resolved out of court,” they said. “Nick believed that he was the sole author of the screenplay and the court found that Pathé and Qwerty had no reason to doubt his word.

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“The judge also found that in the circumstances there was no criticism of Pathé or Qwerty for the fact that Julia had not been accorded a co-author credit on the film’s release. As requested by the court, the credits that appear on the Internet Movie Database are being amended to state that the screenplay was written by Nicholas Martin and Julia Kogan. We trust that this now lays the matter to rest.”

Florence Foster Jenkins writer Nicholas Martin added: “Naturally I am disappointed by the judgment but this is still an ongoing case and it would be entirely inappropriate for me to comment at this stage.”

PREVIOUSLY, 7:48AM PT: Julia Kogan, the writer and opera singer, has prevailed in her bid to be credited as a co-writer on the Oscar nominated movie Florence Foster Jenkins.

The Intellectual Property Enterprise Court on Monday ruled in favor of Kogan and against the film’s credited writer Nicholas Martin, overturning a previous judgement from the IPEC that sided with Martin. Kogan will now receive full credit as a co-writer on the project, with production companies Pathé and Qwerty Films instructed to update the film’s IMDb page (at the time of writing this had not happened).

Kogan will also be entitled to damages for infringement of her copyright, as well as damages for infringement of her moral rights, and there will be a further trial to assess those amounts, according to her legal representatives Keystone Law.

The case had been running since 2015. Kogan claimed to have been snubbed in the film’s credits despite making significant contributions to the project’s screenplay, which was written while she was romantically involved with Martin. She said the process had been a creative collaboration between the pair and their contributions to the script were inseparable.

Martin launched the initial case in 2015, disputing that Kogan was a co-author and seeking to be named sole owner of the copyright of the screenplay. The completed film, which starred Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant, grossed $49 million globally and was nominated for two Oscars. Kogan was initially uncredited.

Kogan filed a counterclaim to Martin alongside a Part 20 Claim against Pathe Productions Limited and Qwerty Films. A retrial was ordered by the Court of Appeal in October 2019 and the initial decision has now been reversed.

The new verdict asserts Kogan is 20% co-author of the screenplay. “Ms Kogan’s input was of great importance to all the central characters. One cannot easily reflect this kind of contribution by pointing to specific dialogue or scenes because it suffuses the whole screenplay,” it read.

“It was soul-crushing to have years of my work stolen and to be eradicated from my own project. Before filming began, when it became clear that nobody was planning to credit or pay me for any work I’d done on Florence Foster Jenkins, we notified the film companies, Qwerty and Pathe, who had been working with me directly, that I was a co-author and copyright owner, but they refused to credit me. Instead, they chose to release the film without my name on it. I’m really grateful to the team at Keystone Law for their help in getting this judgment in my favour,” commented Kogan.

“I am delighted that Ms Kogan’s vital contributions to the screenplay have now been formally recognised by the Judge and she will finally get the recognition she richly deserves as a writer,” added Keystone Law intellectual property solicitor Robert Pocknell.

Deadline has contacted Pathe, Qwerty and Martin’s reps for comment.

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