Landmark Theatres Founder Sues Universal Studios for Fraud Over 'Out of Africa'

Out of Africa Still - Photofest - H 2016
Courtesy of Photofest

Out of Africa Still - Photofest - H 2016

The founder of Landmark Theatres says Universal Studios is cheating him out of his producing profits for Out of Africa, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court. 

Kim Jorgensen says Universal owes him at least $5 million in contingent compensation and is suing the studio for breach of contract and fraud — which he says a March 2016 accounting statement brought to his attention.

"For the first time, Universal included a statement of the interest it claimed to be able to include as part of its costs of production," states the complaint filed by attorney Robert Besser. "The amount of interest claimed by Universal is $80,521,173.00 which if allowed, would render it impossible for there ever to be any 'net proceeds' under the terms of the Production Agreement as interpreted by Universal."

The film starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep won six Oscars, brought in more than double its budget in 1986 and has continued to generate substantial revenues for the last 30 years, according to Jorgensen's complaint. 

Universal reported Out of Africa had generated gross receipts of nearly $180 million as of Nov. 30, 2015 — but Jorgensen claims the studio shaved $58 million off of that total by reporting only 20 percent of home video receipts.

He also says Universal is relying on a misinterpretation of their production agreement to avoid paying him $25,000 in deferred compensation, which he discovered he was owed after consulting an accountant in March 2015. 

Jorgensen is seeking actual, compensatory and punitive damages, as well as an declaration from the court that the contracts between he and Universal are enforceable.

Universal declined to comment on the lawsuit.