May 26, 2011 11:37am PT by Matthew Belloni
Charles Bronson Estate Sues Warner Bros., MGM for Withheld Profits (Exclusive)
The estate of actor Charles Bronson has sued Warner Bros. and MGM claiming the studios have failed to pay profits from two hit 1970’s films.
Larry Martindale, trustee for the late actor’s estate, claims in a lawsuit filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court that a 1975 Bronson deal for the Warner Bros. film St. Ives and a 1976 contract for the MGM production Telefon provided the actor with 10%-15% of “gross receipts” and “gross film rentals.” The suit says the Bronson estate recently conducted an audit of the films that revealed significant underreporting of revenue.
Specifically, the Bronson estate targets the studios’ “not fairly allocating revenue generated from television sales and only reporting 20% of the gross receipts for home video and DVD sales.”
The home video calculation is a particular sore spot for talent in Hollywood. In the late ‘70s, as VHS and Betamax were emerging as significant markets, talent guilds agreed to accept that studio profit participation calculations would be made based on 20% of revenue generated.
But the Bronson estate claims the actor’s deals make no mention of the 20% calculation, instead providing that the studios “are required to include 100% of the gross receipts from home video exploitation” of the films when reporting to Bronson., who died in 2003.
We've reached out to Warner Bros. and MGM for comment and will update with a response.
The suit, filed by Nevile Johnson, Douglas Johnson and James Ryan of Beverly Hills’ Johnson & Johnson, alleges causes of action for breach of contract, declaratory relief, accounting, unjust enrichment, money due on open book account, conversion, fraudulent misrepresentation, and unfair business practices. It seeks unspecified damages.