London Fields: Adaptation of Martin Amis novel pulled from Toronto Film Festival amid legal dispute between director and producer

Matthew Cullen claims the Chris Hanley 'prepared his own version of the film'

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The Independent Culture

The film version of Martin Amis’ darkly comic murder mystery, London Fields, has been pulled from the Toronto International Film Festival amid an extraordinary legal battle between the director and the producer.

Matthew Cullen, the director, is suing producer Chris Hanley, claiming he and his associates “secretly prepared their own version of the film” that included “incendiary imagery evoking 9/11 jumpers, edited against pornography”. Actors Amber Heard, Jim Sturgess, Billy Bob Thornton and Johnny Depp have all reportedly written to the producers to express their opposition to the way it has been edited.

The author Martin Amis has a cameo in the film, and has given his tacit backing to producer Chris Hanley (Teri Pengilley)

The film had been due to be shown at the film festival last year, but was delayed until this year. It was supposed to be shown on Friday, but festival organisers have issued a statement saying: “We have recently learned of a legal matter that has arisen between the director and the producers of the film London Fields. We have worked to make our festival a public showcase for creative expression through the moving image. However with uncertainty surrounding the creative vision of the version scheduled to be screened, we feel it is only appropriate that we remove this film.”

The statement added the festival hoped “this matter will be resolved positively, and that audiences will have the opportunity to see the film”.


The film was pulled after its press screening, enabling reviewers to see what appears to be Mr Hanley’s version. The Hollywood Reporter’s review said the film was a “complete botch” and “presents the most staggering gulf in quality between a novel and a film adaptation in recent memory”. However Amis gave his tacit backing to Mr Hanley’s version as he was the only member of the cast – he has a cameo appearance – to make himself available for press interviews. In an email to The New York Times on Monday, Mr Hanley said: “I have been through creative battles with every film we have made with every director.” He could not be reached for comment.

David Guy Levy, a producer/director who worked on the film until falling out with Mr Hanley, told The Independent: “From what I’ve heard through other people on the film, who also were shut out, basically Chris shut out everybody but himself and his wife. Chris is someone who isn’t known for respecting the director’s vision much.”

Mr Levy, of Periscope Entertainment in Los Angeles, sued Muse Productions, Mr Hanley’s firm, for $300,000 (about £190,000) earlier this year for payment on his work on London Fields.  He said he received a financial settlement.