Watch CBS News

Fake Critic Flap Costs Sony $1.5M

A judge approved an agreement calling for Sony Pictures Entertainment to pay $1.5 million to settle a class-action lawsuit accusing the studio of citing a fake movie critic in ads for several films, an attorney said Tuesday.

Moviegoers who saw the films "Vertical Limit," "A Knight's Tale," "The Animal," "Hollow Man" or "The Patriot" during their original theater runs must file a claim to be eligible for a $5 per ticket reimbursement, said lawyer Norman Blumenthal, who represented a group of filmgoers who sued Sony Pictures in 2001.

Any funds remaining after claims are satisfied would go to charity, he said.

Sony Pictures declined comment. The studio did not admit any liability under terms of the settlement.

After the dispute came to light, the studio temporarily suspended two executives and vowed to monitor its publicity and advertising more closely.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carolyn Kuhl entered a final judgment in the case last month, Blumenthal said.

The lawsuit, originally filed by two California moviegoers, claimed the ads fooled the plaintiffs into seeing "A Knight's Tale."

In one ad for the action-comedy, a critic identified as "David Manning of The Ridgefield Press" was quoted calling star Heath Ledger "this year's hottest new star!"

In an ad for "The Animal," Manning was quoted declaring, "The producing team of 'Big Daddy' has delivered another winner!"

At the time, The Ridgefield Press, a small weekly newspaper in Connecticut, did not have a movie critic named David Manning, the lawsuit said.

Some of the movies Manning praised had already received positive reviews from real critics.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.