Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman and John Cusack's new movie Runaway Jury has sparked a real-life legal battle between the film studio and a small kite shop.

The actors were recently in New Orleans, Louisiana, filming the onscreen version of John Grisham's best-selling novel, and their presence allegedly caused untold disruption for local shopkeeper LUKE FONTANA, who runs KITE SHOP INC in the city's French Quarter. He says that, for a few days, it was impossible for customers to get into the small store and business suffered.

He rants, "All the equipment, the supplies... I've never seen anything like it. It's very disruptive. In the movie production they completely blocked the entrances of the kite shop."

Fontana has now filed a lawsuit against the film-makers 20TH CENTURY FOX and JURY PRODUCTIONS INC.

The suit claims, "In spite of repeated demands by plaintiff, defendants have refused to compensate plaintiff for shutting off access to the Kite Shop."

Other business owners also say they were adversely affected.

A spokesman for Jury Productions says the company will review whether some of the shopkeepers in the bustling city need to be compensated, but dismisses the Kite Shop suit as "ridiculous", claiming the film crew spent $1,500 (GBP940) there, with Hoffman himself spending around $900 (GBP560).

Fontana acknowledges the business but says the numbers are grossly exaggerated.

23/07/2003 09:22