Cult film icon Tommy Wiseau is being forced to pay nearly $700,000 to the directors of “Room Full of Spoons,” an unauthorized documentary about Wiseau and the making of his infamous movie “The Room” (via Variety). Filmmakers Richard Harper, Fernando Forero McGrath, Mark Racicot, and Richard Towns planned to open “Room Full of Spoons” after the 2017 release of A24’s “The Disaster Artist” reignited interest in the cult filmmaker and “The Room.” Wiseau blocked the documentary’s release by filing a lawsuit in Toronto alleging the doc “violated his copyright by using clips from ‘The Room’ and invaded his privacy by revealing his origins in Poland, which he had been endeavoring to keep secret.”
Judge Paul Schabas of the Ontario Superior Court settled the case April 23 by siding with the “Room Full of Spoons” team. The judge cited “fair dealing” as the reason the directors could use clips from “The Room” in their documentary and noted that details on Wiseau’s origins were “available from public sources, which is how the defendants obtained and confirmed it.”
“Wiseau may be sensitive about this information because he has cultivated an aura of mystery around it,” Judge Schabas said, “but disclosure of these facts is not, objectively speaking, something which can be described as ‘highly offensive.’” The judge concluded that Wiseau wanted to prevent the documentary’s release not only to preserve the mystery surrounding his identity but also to “protect and maximize the value of ‘The Disaster Artist,’ in which the plaintiff had a financial interest.”
According to Judge Schabas, Wiseau had “behaved erratically at trial, seeking last minute delays and then failing to show up for the first day.” Wiseau showed up to testify on the third day of the trial, only after the judge denied the filmmaker’s request to testify via videoconference.
Judge Schabas went on to call Wiseau’s actions “oppressive and outrageous,” adding, “This action was brought for the improper purpose of preventing the release of a documentary disliked by Tommy Wiseau.” Wiseau is now ordered to pay $550,000 to the filmmakers to compensate for the failed release of the documentary, plus an additional to $200,000 in punitive damages.
Speaking to Variety, “Room Full of Spoons” director Richard Harper said that with the trial behind him he’s now seeking distribution for the documentary and is eyeing a streaming launch.