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Black Water Transit is a 2009 American crime drama film based on the novel of the same name by Carsten Stroud. It is directed by Tony Kaye and stars an ensemble cast including Laurence Fishburne and Karl Urban.

Black Water Transit
Black Water Transit poster.jpg
Directed byTony Kaye
Produced byMichael Cerenzie
Christopher Eberts
Kia Jam
Robert Katz
Paul Parmar
Arnold Rifkin
Screenplay byMatthew Chapman
Based onBlack Water Transit
by Carsten Stroud
StarringLaurence Fishburne
Karl Urban
Brittany Snow
Aisha Tyler
Stephen Dorff
Release date
  • May 13, 2009 (2009-05-13) (Cannes)
Running time
100 mins
CountryUnited States



In post-Katrina New Orleans, shipping executive Jack Vermillion (Fishburne) finds himself getting more than he bargained for after agreeing to help feds expose smuggler and all-around bad seed Earl Pike (Urban).[2]


At various points in the film's development, Bruce Willis, Vin Diesel, and Samuel L. Jackson were attached to star.[2]


Filming took place in and around New Orleans between June and August 2007.[2] Filming locations included the French Quarter, the 9th Ward and local military installations.[2]


In August 2008, Kaye revealed to the Los Angeles Times that he had recently screened a rough-cut of the film to actor Lawrence Fishburne. According to Kaye, his lead "loved" the film, which had originally been conceived as a Die Hard-like thriller. However, Kaye suggested his script changes were used as an excuse by producer David Bergstein to hold back payments on the film, and that Bergstein was attempting to alleviate his financial trouble by casting doubt on the film's bankability.[3]

On April 8, 2009, the production company came to an agreement with Cayman Islands-based financier Aramid Entertainment for the completion and release schedule for the film, which, at that point, remained unfinished. According to legal documents, Bergstein requested a sum of $1,775,000 for postproduction.[4]

In May 2009, Kaye reportedly screened a cut of the film at the Cannes Film Festival. In July 2009, Aramid Entertainment provided a notice of default regarding the agreement to complete and release Black Water Transit, noting the production company had failed to provide with some of the necessary signatures for the agreement.[4]

In November 2009, Bergstein and his co-producer Ron Tutor were sued by a New York-based hedge fund for $120 million. Bergstein and Tutor both confirmed that Kaye had delivered a cut of the film. However, both reiterated that the film was "unreleasable".[5]

In January 2010, it was reported that Bergstein had reached a settlement in another lawsuit related to the film.[6]

In June 2010, the rights for Black Water Transit, valued at $26 million, were sold by Library Asset Acquisition Company (LAAC) to Black Water Transit Acquisition Company at a foreclosure auction for $2 million. However, as both companies were suspected to be owned by Bergstein and Tutor, the sale was opposed by a key creditor and a federal bankruptcy trustee.[7]

In March 2012, Kaye confirmed the film was still unfinished and that some additional material needed to be shot.[8] He elaborated on the tonal shift of the project. "The film we made so far is not the film they expected," he said. "But as you edit, you learn more about the subject matter, and more about the actors, and nothing is set in stone. Movies are made many times—once in the writing, once in preproduction, once again during the shoot, once again in editing, in post, and again when you put it in the marketplace. These things, they change all the time, and that's what I love about it, the constant reinvention."[9]

In September 2014, it was reported that Bergstein and Aramid Entertainment had reached a settlement in their lawsuit and that the rights for the film would revert to Bergstein, pending a New York bankruptcy court approval.[10]

In May 2016, Bergstein issued a press release regarding a recent complaint by Aramid Entertainment against its former executive, David Molner.[11] The complaint mentioned the project had gone into litigation, with the repayment of Aramid's $17.5 million "Black Water Transit loan" dependent on the outcome. The press release noted that "actions against other firms involved currently remain in litigation."


  1. ^ Black Water Transit filming information at
  2. ^ a b c d Mike Scott (2007-06-23). "Filming finally begins on 'Black Water Transit'". The Times-Picayune.
  3. ^ Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey (14 August 2008). "The Big Picture: The Hollywood boxing undercard: Tony Kaye vs. David Bergstein". Retrieved 2015-10-18.
  4. ^ a b "Aramid Entertainment v. Daniel Bergstein" (PDF). 4 May 2010. Retrieved 2015-10-18.
  5. ^ Matthew Belloni (4 January 2010). "Capitol settles 'Black Water Transit' suit". Retrieved 2015-10-18.
  6. ^ Alex Ben Block (11 June 2010). "Troubled 'Black Water Transit' sold at auction". Retrieved 2015-10-18.
  7. ^ Fred Topel (22 March 2012). "Humpty Dumpty: An Interview with Tony Kaye". Retrieved 2015-10-18.
  8. ^ Jen Vineyard (14 March 2012). "Tony Kaye Says He's Still Editing Long-Lost 'Black Water Transit' Film; Still Plugging Away On Experimental Project 'Lobby Lobster'". Retrieved 2015-10-18.
  9. ^ Dominic Patten (3 September 2014). "David Bergstein & Aramid Reach "Unimaginable" Settlement Deal". Retrieved 2015-10-18.
  10. ^ David Bergstein (24 May 2015). "Aramid Entertainment's Recent Complaint Against David Molner - Seeking $200 Million in Damages - Vindicates Former Partner, David Bergstein". Retrieved 2016-05-25.

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