Zaentz sues over 'Patient'


Producer Saul Zaentz on Thursday filed a $20 million lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court accusing the Walt Disney Co. and its Miramax unit of failing to share profits from the 1996 best picture Oscar winner "The English Patient."

"Like Enron, Tyco and WorldCom, Miramax has used fraudulent and unfair accounting and business practices to deprive (Saul Zaentz Co.) of its profit participation," the suit claims.

Zaentz, who is represented by Martin Singer of Los Angeles law firm Lavely & Singer, partially financed the movie and created a joint venture with Miramax to co-finance the picture and share in its profits, the suit states. Using inappropriate accounting practices, Miramax has attempted to show that it has yet to recoup costs associated with the acquisition, distribution and marketing of the film, it alleges.

Among the practices cited, the suit claims that Miramax listed as theatrical marketing expenses $34 million in marketing costs, even though "a significant portion" of those outlays actually were associated with a home video campaign for the title.

The suit sets production costs of "The English Patient" at $35 million and worldwide receipts at $100 million.