The psychological thriller “Black Swan” earned Fox Searchlight Pictures critical acclaim, a host of awards including a Best Actress Oscar for Natalie Portman and a reported $300 million in revenues.
Now, the 2010 movie has put Fox Searchlight, the independent film division of 20th Century Fox, in the spotlight again—this time in the role of the villain. In a class action lawsuit filed in late September in the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York, two former interns claim the company violated federal and state wage and hour laws by not paying them for their work during the movie’s production. It is apparently the first class action in the newly emerging area of unpaid intern rights.
Glatt et. al. v. Fox Searchlight Pictures, Inc., filed on behalf of all the company’s former unpaid interns, alleges that their work kept the company’s production costs low. According to the suit, “Black Swan” was produced for just $13 million, in part because unpaid interns worked as production assistants, bookkeepers, and performed secretarial and janitorial duties.