Producers of Ben Affleck's 'Hypnotic' Sue Insurers for Refusing to Extend Coverage During COVID Shutdown

Action film to be directed by Robert Rodriguez was originally set to film in April

Photo: John Russo

The production companies behind the upcoming Ben Affleck action picture “Hypnotic” filed a lawsuit against the film’s insurance company for unspecified damages in response to that company’s refusal to extend coverage any further amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In paperwork filed in the United States District Court for California’s Central District, attorneys representing Hoosgow Productions accused Chubb National Insurance Company of eight causes of action, including breach of contract, tortious breach of the implied covenant of faith and fair dealing, fraud, and negligent misrepresentation.

To be directed by Robert Rodriguez, the film follows Affleck “as a detective who, while investigating a string of high-end heists, becomes ensnared in a mystery involving his missing daughter and a secret government program,” according to the complaint. It was originally set to begin production last April, the complaint says, but thanks to the pandemic “Hypnotic,” along with just about everything else in Hollywood, postponed the start of production indefinitely.

Last October, the complaint says, producers secured a $58 million policy on the film running through Oct. 29, 2020. However, CHUBB refused to extend the policy beyond that date, instead offering a renewal plan “with a material reduction in the scope of the insurance,” according to the complaint. Specifically, the new plan would have “an exclusion applicable to losses relating to COVID-19, thereby depriving Hoosegow of coverage that it had purchased and that was promised under the existing policy.”

This contradicts the terms of the original insurance plan, the complaint says, because that plan, again according to the complaint, had four conditions in order to end:

“1. The date on which a protection copy has been completed and stored in an area physically separated from
the original production media; 2. 30 days after completion of post-production; 3. The expiration date shown in the Declarations; or 4. The policy is cancelled.”

According to the complain, there was no actual expiration date as far as covering the production was concerned, and the policy didn’t contain “a virus exclusion, pandemic exclusion, COVID-19 exclusion, or any other similar exclusion.” Though of course, having been written in 2019 it could not have included a COVID-19 reference.

In addition, according to the complaint, when setting up the policy with Chubb, producers initially requested a period of April, 2020-April 2021, to coincide with the start of production. A Chubb representative suggested a start date of October, 2019 to coincide with other Hoosgow projects it was insuring, but, said in an email, the text of which was included in the complaint, that it “can extend as needed.”

Hoosgow is requesting unspecified damages, including repayment of all legal costs, punitive damages, and the extension of the original insurance policy.

Representatives for Hoosgow and Chubb didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment from Thewrap.

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