Not only has the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in numerous movies that were about to come out being delayed, it has also put the kibosh on various movie-related events. For instance, ACE Universe was supposed to hold its latest Comic-Con from March 20-22 in Boston, and the celebrity guests included Marvel Cinematic Universe stars Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston.
Alas, despite selling out, the spreading coronavirus made it necessary to cancel the ACE Comic Con. That’s bad enough on its own, but now ACE Universe has filed a lawsuit against GrowTix, which provided the ticketing services and event management software, for “stealing millions of dollars” of customer refunds. Furthermore, ACE Universe states that it GrowTix $680,000 to deal with the refunds, only to be advised that the refund plan didn’t work anymore. All this has led to ACE Universe suing for breach of contract and fraud.
As reported by THR, ACE Universe alleges in the complaint it filed earlier this week in New York federal court that it and GrowTix had an arrangement set up where the latter would receive a percentage of the sales, and the two companies had also agreed on a way to process the funds in the event the ACE Comic Con was cancelled. This contract included a “force majeure” provision which “excused performance” when both parties were unable to carry out their obligations due to either “governmental action” or an “act of God” beyond control.
In is complaint, ACE Universe detailed that it and GrowTix agreed that customers would receive a full refund within 30 days of being notified that the Comic Con had been shut down. ACE says that as part of this refund agreement, it provided GrowTix with $680,000 to carry out the refunds, and it subsequently notified customers on social media on March 11 that they would receive said refunds after the Comic Con was cancelled once the Massachusetts government declared a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus.
However, ACE Universe alleges that less than a week later, it received a letter from the chief of Patron Technologies, GrowTix’s corporate parent, that it was “not only withholding the money transferred to it for refunds, but was also demanding more money from ACE in regards to its own fees.” By March 17, ACE claims that Patron tried to “attach and withdraw $2.3 million from ACE bank accounts in the middle of the night,” though these actions were prevented.
Still, ACE Universe says that GrowTix is still withholding funds even as banks and credit card companies are starting to handle the Comic Con refunds, and this “improper conduct” will result in ACE not only losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in “improper transactional fees,” but also damage its reputation.
GrowTix did not respond to THR’s request for comment, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens next with its legal conflict with ACE Universe. Nevertheless, this is bold new territory we’re in, and it’s likelier than not there will be more lawsuits tied to coronavirus complications to follow, be it in the entertainment world or other industries.
At this rate, it’s difficult to tell when the coronavirus craziness will slow down, but with large gatherings of people still being prohibited in so many places, don’t count on any comic cons being held in the coming months. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if San Diego Comic-Con, which is supposed to run from July 23 to July 26, ends up being cancelled too.
As for the MCU stars that were supposed to attend ACE Comic Con, while Chris Evans’ tenure as Captain America wrapped up last year in Avengers: Endgame, Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are sticking around the franchise. The former is returning for Thor: Love and Thunder, and the latter is leading the Disney+ series Loki. There’s no word yet on if either MCU project will be delayed, just like what’s been done with Black Widow.