Most investors in Terrence Malick films must be resigned to giving the director a certain amount of time and leeway to do his own deeply idiosyncratic thing. But Seven Seas Partnership, who threw him more than $3m for a project called Voyage Of Time a few years ago, have grown tired of waiting for results, and have filed a complaint against Malick with the New York federal court. For their money, Voyage Of Time was taking a bit too long...
Inasmuch as anything can really be known about what shape any given finished Malick project might have taken, the film in contention was supposed to be some sort of documentary. Described by Malick at one point as "one of my greatest dreams", it was apparently going to "portray the events of our cosmic history, as well as the state of the Earth now and the prospects for its future". So not unlike that bit in the middle of The Tree Of Life - possibly - but writ even larger and much longer, and with voiceover narration (Brad Pitt was attached for that job at one point).
Sounds like an intriguing enough prospect, and Seven Seas clearly thought so, but their allegation now is that nothing ever happened. Furthermore, they allege that their money instead disappeared into The Tree Of Life, To The Wonder and Knight Of Cups, none of which they officially funded and will therefore see no return on.
Finally, Seven Seas allege that Malick asked them for more time and money in 2012, but refused to guarantee that Voyage Of Time would subsequently claim his undivided attention.
As yet, there has been no public response from Malick, but a statement from production company Sycamore Pictures' lawyers runs thusly: "The claims of Seven Seas are without merit. The film was on budget, on schedule, and all funds were used appropriately. Additionally, Seven Seas' decision to file this lawsuit under the cover of darkness and go public with accusations before presenting Sycamore with a copy of the suit itself speaks to the weakness of the allegations."
Malick films have schedules? Voyage Of Time is currently listed on the IMDb as being in "post-production", with a release date in the US in 2014.