Opera star wins court battle over input for Florence Foster Jenkins film
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The screenwriter of Florence Foster Jenkins should hand over 20 per cent of his earnings to his opera singer former girlfriend, a judge has ruled, after she won a three-year legal battle for credit.
The Oscar-nominated film, starring Hugh Grant and Meryl Streep, tells the story of a real-life heiress and amateur soprano famed for her poor singing.
Julia Kogan, an opera singer, came up with the original idea and helped write the script for the film with her then-boyfriend Nicholas Martin in 2013.
But on the film’s release in 2016, sole writing credit went to Mr Martin who claimed his ex-partner’s contribution was simply that of a “supportive girlfriend”. After a lengthy legal battle, a High Court judge has now ruled she made contributions of “great importance” to the film, which took £33 million at the box office.
Ms Kogan had initially lost the legal fight in 2017, but following an appeal Mr Justice Meade said she is now entitled to 20 per cent of the estimated £310,000 her former boyfriend made from the successful production.
Welcoming the decision, Ms Kogan said it was “soul-crushing to have years of my work stolen and to be eradicated from my own project”.
Florence Foster Jenkins follows the eponymous socialite who sold out Carnegie Hall as “the world’s worst opera singer”.
The High Court judge said that while Mr Martin and Ms Kogan were in a “loving relationship”, Ms Kogan made “highly creative and imaginative” contributions to the plot, characters and general scenario of the film.
It was claimed her understanding of the opera world were invaluable to the script, in which Mr Martin, who has also written episodes of The Bill and Midsomer Murders, had the final say.
The judge said of the pair’s respective contributions: “Trying to separate them would be like trying to unmix purple paint into red and blue.” He added: “Ms Kogan is also entitled to an appropriate declaration as to her authorship.”
Mr Justice Meade ordered Qwerty and Pathé to update IMDb, an onlinefilm industry database, to reflect the joint authorship. The retrial also confirmed Ms Kogan contributed 20 per cent of the work of the screenplay.
The judge said Ms Kogan’s “input was of great importance”. He added: “One cannot easily reflect this kind of contribution by pointing to specific dialogue or scenes because it suffuses the whole screenplay.”
Robert Pocknell , Ms Kogan’s solicitor, said: “I am delighted Ms Kogan’s vital contributions to the screenplay have now been formally recognised and she will finally get the recognition she richly deserves as a writer.”