Bernard Schlink, who authored the novel that formed the basis of the acclaimed drama The Reader, has sued distributor The Weinstein Co claiming he has been cheated out of millions in profits from the Oscar-winning film.
Schlink, who filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday, claims he is entitled to between 2.5 percent and 5 percent of gross receipts from the film, which won Kate Winslet an Oscar for best actress, based on a $1.5 million option deal he signed in 1998 with the Weinsteins’ former company Miramax. Harvey and Bob Weinstein took the Reader project with them when they left Miramax to form TWC, but Schlink claims he has received nothing from TWC and has been sent only one profit participation statement, in violation of his rights.
“The statement is false in that it greatly under-states the receipts, overstates the costs and expenses, and does not correctly follow the terms of their deal with Miramax,” the lawsuit alleges.
We’ve reached out to TWC for comment.
Schlink, a German law professor and judge, published The Reader novel in 1995. The story, which deals with the impact of the Holocaust, was translated to English and in 1998 became the first German book to top the New York Times bestseller list.
The movie version, directed by Stephen Daldry and released in late 2008, garnered five Oscar nominations, including best picture. The film went on to ride awards buzz to gross about $108.9 million worldwide.
The suit, filed by L.A. attorney Joseph Hart, alleges causes of action for breach of contract, fraudulent concealment, money had and received, breach of implied contract, and accounting. Schlink claims he’s owed at least $1 million but likely more than that amount.