The Law Offices of Mark Litwak and Associates has offered its clients high quality legal and business solutions for more than thirty years. We serve a global clientele in transactions involving financing, producing, and distributing motion picture, television, and new media projects. We represent numerous writers, directors, producers and production companies.
The firm has served as production counsel for numerous television and new media programs and series produced by independent filmmakers as well as productions made for major studios, networks, and content providers
including Netflix, Warner Bros., 2oth Century Fox,
Cartoon Network, HBO, IFC, Yahoo!, Disney/ABC, Hulu, Paramount, Seeso/NBC, Comedy Central, Verizon, YouTube, Facebook and MTV.
Mark is the author of six books, numerous articles and
has been an adjunct professor at U.S.C. law school since 2013. The firm has won millions of dollars in damages for filmmakers who have been defrauded by distributors.
Mark Litwak has been named to the Southern California Super Lawyers list as one of the top attorneys in Southern California for 2018. No more than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by Super Lawyers. This is the 9th time Mark has been honored with this award which is based on anonymous peer evaluations.
Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70
practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer
recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a rigorous multi-‐phased process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates, and peer reviews by practice area.
The Super Lawyers lists are published nationwide in Super Lawyers magazines and in leading city and regional magazines across the country. Super Lawyers magazines also feature editorial profiles of attorneys who embody excellence in the practice of law. For more information about Super Lawyers, go to superlawyers.com or click Here.
Mark also has for many years received an AV peer review rating from Martindale-Hubbell. This is the highest rating given a lawyer and is indicator of a lawyer's high ethical standards and professional ability, generated from evaluations of lawyers by other members of the bar and the judiciary in the United States and Canada.
Podcast: FILM MAKING PITFALLS IN DEAL-MAKING AND DISTRIBUTION
Listen to Cinema of Change Podcast interview of Mark Litwak
We are pleased to have won a $43,811.94 award for our producer client Sydon GMBH against Los Angles based sales agent Spotlight Pictures, Inc. Sydon had entered into a distribution agreement with Spotlight for distribution of its feature film Falsely Accused. Mark Litwak represented Sydon in the arbitration. The arbitrator found that Spotlight failed to communicate with Sydon after the notice of default and once the third quarter 2016 report was issued showing a payment due, Spotlight represented that the payment would be paid but failed to do so. Spotlight improperly continued to withhold payments which it acknowledged were due. The award included interest and reimbursement of Claimant attorney fees.
Attorney Diana Budninskiy joins firm
Attorney Diana Budninskiy has joined the firm. Her areas of practice include entertainment law, intellectual property law, contract law, and employment law. Prior to joining the firm, Diana was a civil litigator.Diana graduated cum laude from Southwestern Law School in 2015.
During law school, she spent her first summer as a Television Production Legal intern at NBC Universal and her second summer as a judicial extern to the Honorable Ronald S.W. Lew of the United States District Court for the Central District of California. She also served as Chair of the Negotiation Honors Program, a member of the Southwestern Journal of International Law, and a student associate in the Entertainment and the Arts Legal Clinic. Her full bio is here.
Areas of Practice
□ Entertainment Law
□ Contract Law
□ Copyright and Clearances
□ Trademark and Unfair Competition
□ Business Transactions and Formation
□ Motion Picture Finance and Distribution
□ Television and Film Production
□ Book and New Media publishing
□ Defamation, Rights of Privacy and Publicity
□ Intellectual Property acquisition and licensing
Expert Witness Services
Mark Litwak has served as an expert witness for both
plaintiffs and defendants in state and federal courts, as well as in arbitration. He is an authority on customs and
practices in the movie industry, entertainment law, deal
making, economic damages, chain of title, and the
financing and distribution of films.
Risky Business Seminar coming to New York April 27, 2018.
This comprehensive one day seminar —for new attorneys, attorneys transitioning to entertainment law, and filmmakers— explores how independent films are financed and distributed.
Topics include financing via pre-sales, debt and equity investors, negotiating tactics, typical contract terms, cross-collateralization, creative accounting, and ethical concerns. Particular attention will be paid to how producers and filmmakers can protect themselves by: investigating distributors; watering down warranties; adding contract provisions covering performance, termination, and alternative dispute resolution; getting errors and omissions (E&O) insurance; and using lab access letters and schedules of minimums. Other topics will include: criteria for selecting a distributor; new media distribution; which contract terms are negotiable; compliance with state and federal laws regarding investors; retaining an attorney, producer reps and publicists; and confirming awards and enforcing judgments. Extensive handouts will be distributed via email in advance of the program, including a distribution contract, articles, and a self-defense checklist. Finally, the lunch hour will provide a great opportunity for networking.
Continuing Legal Education credits VLA: Seven (7) New York CLE credits awarded for attorneys: 4 Areas of Professional Practice credits, 2 Skills credits, and 1 Ethics credit. This program qualifies as “transitional” for newly admitted attorneys.
Download Contract Templates from our New Store.
We have enhanced our store and now if you purchase contract templates from the books we sell, you can download them immediately. You no longer have to wait for a CD-R to arrive by mail. The contracts are in Word format and fully editable. Store
The 4th Edition is
The Fourth Edition updates the existing text and adds more than 100 pages of new material covering changes occurring in the movie industry such as the growth of new media outlets like Netflix and You Tube. Purchase your copy today!
USC's 'Dealmaking' Course Spring 2018
Mark will once again be teaching his Dealmaking in the Entertainment Industry class for lawyers studying for their advanced LL.M. (Master of Laws) degrees at U.S.C. Gould School of Law next spring. Many law firms prefer job candidates with an LL.M. degree because it indicates that the lawyer has advanced, specialized legal training. This class explores legal and business issues that arise in connection with the development, production, and exploitation of theatrical motion pictures and television programs. The LL.M program is designed for international attorneys, judges, government officials, prosecutors, corporate legal counsel, bankers, who are interested in receiving an American law advanced degree.
Box Office Trends
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has released its 2016 Theatrical Market Statistics. The report finds that, in 2016, the global box office for all films released in each country around the world reached $38.6 billion, up one percent from 2015. The domestic (U.S.-Canada) box office was $11.4 billion, which grew two percent, while the international box office was $27.2 billion in U.S. dollars, the same as 2015, despite the increased strength of the U.S. dollar and slower growth in China. The international box office now comprises 71 percent of the global box office.
The number of cinema screens increased by eight percent worldwide in 2016 to nearly 164,000, due in large part to continued double-digit growth in the Asia Pacific region (+18%). The number of digital screens (+17%) and Premium Large Format screens (+11%) also saw double-digit growth globally. The number of digital screens in the United States has now increased to 98 percent of all U.S. screens. Ninety-five percent of the world’s cinema screens are now digital.
The highest grossing U.S.-Canada box office films in 2016 were as follows:
1. Finding Dory (Disney): $486.3
2. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Disney): $408.2
3. Captain America: Civil War (Disney): $408.1
4. The Secret Life of Pets (Universal): $368.4
5. The Jungle Book (Disney): $364.0
In 2016, the U.S.-Canada box office was $11.4 billion, up two percent from $11.1 billion in 2015. Tickets sold (1.32 billion) held steady compared to 2015.
Three of the top five grossing films in 2016 attracted majority-female audiences. Finding Dory drew the largest proportion of females, with 55 percent of its box office coming from women. The Jungle Book drew the most ethnically diverse audience, followed by Finding Dory and Captain America: Civil War.
The total number of films released theatrically was 718, which was an increase of one percent from 2015. MPAA members, which are the major studios, released 139 films, down five percent in 2016 compared to 2015. Independents continued to release the most films domestically with 579 films, up three percent from 2015.
Home Video on the Decline
As reported in the Los Angeles Times, the home video market for sales and rentals of movies continues to decline as more consumers turn to Netflix and other services for movies. Revenue from sales and rentals of movies and television shows totaled $12 billion in 2016, down seven percent from the prior year, according to data released Friday by trade organization Digital Entertainment Group. At the same time, subscription streaming services continued rapid growth, increasing nearly 23 percent to $6.23 billion in consumer spending. For the first quarter of 2017, Electronic Sell Through increased 13 percent. Consumer spending on home-video entertainment grew two percent from the same period in 2016.
The New WGA Agreement
The Writers Guild of America reached a new collective bargaining agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), averting a strike. The new deal will extend to May 1, 2020. Minimums will increase by two percent in the first year and by 2.5 percent in each of the second and third years.
Residuals for made-for-pay television increase ten percent in the first year of the contract and five percent in the second year of the contract. Domestic use of made-for-Hight Budget SVOD programs now triggers a residual after 90 days, rather than after one year.