Sony pays $1.5m over fake critic

In 2001, ads for films including Hollow Man and A Knight's Tale quoted praise from a reviewer called David Manning, who was exposed as being invented. People who saw the films in the US can now get a $5 (£2.80) refund from Sony's pay-out, lawyer Norman Blumenthal said. Sony did not admit liability in the settlement and declined to comment.

The studio reached the out-of-court agreement to settle the case and avoid the cost and uncertainty of litigation, according to a court notice. The settlement was agreed last year but has only just been approved by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carolyn Kuhl.

If the full $1.5m is not claimed, any money left over will go to charity, Mr Blumenthal said.

'Fabricated quotes'

Promotional material for other films including The Patriot, Vertical Limit and The Animal also carried quotes from "David Manning of The Ridgefield Press".

He supposedly called Heath Ledger "this year's hottest new star" for his role in A Knight's Tale, said The Animal was "another winner" and Hollow Man was "one hell of a scary ride". But The Ridgefield Press, a small paper in Connecticut, said David Manning had never worked for them. Sony temporarily suspended two employees following an internal investigation into "fabricated quotes on four movie ads".