LOS ANGELES – Mel Gibson, who's being sued by a writer over payment for the "The Passion of the Christ" screenplay, wants to keep financial information about the blockbuster movie out of the public eye.
Benedict Fitzgerald claimed in his February lawsuit that Gibson misled him into accepting a small payment for writing the script by saying the movie would cost between $4 million and $7 million.
Fitzgerald, who shared screenwriting credits with Gibson, claimed he agreed to "a salary substantially less than what he would have taken had he known the true budget for the film," which the lawsuit claimed was $25 million to $50 million. The lawsuit claims fraud, breach of contract and unjust enrichment, and seeks unspecified damages.
In court filings Tuesday, attorneys for Gibson and his production company asked the court to seal the movie's financial records and only allow Fitzgerald's lawyers access to them. The information details the movie's domestic and foreign box office receipts, production costs and distribution expenses.
The defense is also seeking to dismiss some of Fitzgerald's claims, including fraud, which if proven would allow Fitzgerald to seek punitive damages.