The company that made Travis Scott’s “Wake Up” music video featuring the Weeknd claims Sony’s Epic Records still owes them nearly $200,000, new court papers show.
Smuggler, Inc. finalized its bid with Epic on April 19, 2019 to make the music video — which was shot in the house featured in “The Godfather” — for $749,000, despite attempts by Epic to get the price down to $600,000, the Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit says.
The Los Angeles-based production company says it was paid the first installment of $561,766 but Epic refused to pay the second installment of $187,255 even though the video was released on July 25, 2019, has had over 40 million views and is still publicly viewable, the court papers claim.
But Epic made a bogus claim that it was unhappy with the final product saying the video didn’t have certain effects — which weren’t included in the contract — in order to renegotiate the price and to even try to cancel the agreement after the video had already been released for three weeks, the court documents allege.
Scott and his team were happy with the video, with Scott’s manager saying in a group email on May 6, 2019 that an initial cut of the video “Looks fire!” And “the director received messages indicating that Mr. Scott was happy with the video as it was,” the court papers say.
Smuggler believes “that Epic never intended to pay Smuggler the final payment as promised in the agreement, and that it looked for, and fabricated, excuses to try to reduce the contract price to an amount below $600,000 as it had repeatedly requested in the negotiations, but which Smuggler repeatedly refused to agree to,” the suit charges.
Epic hid that it didn’t have the budget to pay the full contract amount, “to induce Smuggler to produce and deliver the finished video, which Smuggler did, and which Epic conceded was beautifully shot,” the suit claims.
In addition to refusing to pay the rest of the contract price, Epic has since “blacklisted” Smuggler, a fact the company discovered August 2020 when directors “inexplicably pulled” out of two jobs that Smuggler was bidding for, the court documents claim.
“Epic’s wrongful attempt to pressure Smuggler into walking away from its contractual rights … is outrageous,” the suit alleges.
A lawyer for Smuggler didn’t immediately return a request for comment. Epic didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
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