Tim Burton, Lisa Marie

Barry King/WireImage.com

Tim Burton probably could use the Bat-Signal right about now.

The erstwhile Batman director has been ordered to stand trial in a lawsuit by ex-girlfriend/muse Lisa Marie, who claims she's owed millions of dollars.

Los Angeles Superior Court Justice Teresa Sanchez-Gordon ruled this morning that a trial is the best means to determine whether Burton verbally agreed to bankroll Lisa Marie for life in exchange for her serving as his personal manager and acting in his films, as her suit contends, before allegedly duping her into accepting a much smaller payout.

Burton had fought to have the lawsuit tossed. There was no immediate comment from his lawyer or publicist.

While LIsa Marie turned up for the proceedings, Burton is in London working on Alice in Wonderland and participated via telephone.

In his motion seeking dismissal, attorney Joseph Mannis argued that any sort of oral agreement was not applicable in this case, because Lisa Marie—who lived with Burton for nine years before he took up with Helena Bonham Carter in 2001—signed off on a $5.5 million settlement. Per the terms of that deal, Mannis argued, Lisa Marie relinquished all claims to Burton's assets and promised not to file a palimony suit.

But the model and actress, who appeared in small roles in many of Burton's films and whose real name is Lisa Marie Smith, claims she only received $2.7 million and was victimized by a conspiracy. She claims that Burton worked with her own advisers to shortchange her.

Burton filed a countersuit last September seeking a court declaration affirming she was obligated to live up to the prior deal.

One of the plaintiff's lawyers lashed out at the director's camp for a bullying tactic in which they threatened to take futher legal action against her if she fought Burton's petition to dismiss the case.

"They said that if we had the temerity to file papers in opposition to their motion for some reason that they would file a malicious prosecution action not only against Lisa Marie but also against me," cocounsel Judd Burstein told E! News. "It's going to be very interesting what the jury thinks of that kind of hubris."

Burstein added his camp was "very pleased" by the judge's ruling.

"It's not unexpected to us. Nice to know that just because you're a big celebrity you can't get your way by cheating and bullying."

The attorney also said that a chance for an amicable agreement was past.

"We've had some [settlement] talks, but it's not going anywhere," Burstein said. "We want our day in court, and it will be a very bad day for Tim Burton."

That day is now scheduled for Aug. 11.

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