General News

Property war heats up over Lone Survivor war zone

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Jan 13, 2014 | 3:15pm EST

A New Mexico landowner is suing the bosses of America's new number one movie Lone Survivor after they allegedly turned his property into an Afghan war zone without the proper permission. The executives celebrating the success of Peter Berg's war film, starring Mark Wahlberg, have been hit with demands from Patrick Elwell, who claims they asked the wrong person for permission to use the land. Georgia Film Fund Seventeen Productions officials paid $35,000 (£21,900) to La Merced de Pueblo de Chilili for permission to use the property, but it appears they may have done the deal with the wrong man. In a letter sent to film producers on 3 November (13), and obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Elwell wrote, "I have no idea who authorized your Production Company to use my property for the filming of the 'Lone Survivor,' nor have I personally authorized any person or organization to act in my absence." Local reports suggest the property has been under dispute since 1841, when the Chilili Land Grant was created by the Mexican government and sold off. Elwell's ancestors were among the first settlers, and he has a property deed to support his claim of being a rightful owner. The Lone Survivor producers conducted their deal with Juan Sanchez, president of the Chilili Land Grant, and other local leaders, who believe the land sales to be illegal even though courts have rejected their position. Elwell has demanded $75,000 (£46,900) for filming on the property and a further $85,000 (£53,100) for "reclamation costs due to destruction of natural erosion preventing vegetation". The movie bosses have called on a New Mexico federal judge to determine the true owner of the property, and if he or she rules in Elwell's favour, they are demanding that Sanchez and his organisation cover their costs.

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