Universal Studios, StudioCanal Settle Multimillion-Dollar Lawsuit

Both sides fought over audits that turned up owed Working Title film money.
Universal/Everett Collection
"About a Boy"

Universal Studios has resolved a lawsuit brought by StudioCanal over a series of films made under the Working Title banner, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

StudioCanal sued last February, alleging that it was cheated on a partnership that covered 44 films, including About a Boy, Billy Elliot, Love Actually and O Brother Where Art Thou? An audit of six of the films from the joint venture was claimed to have turned up millions of dollars in underreported income, and the plaintiff asserted that "tens of millions of dollars and likely more" was being hidden.

The suit further claimed Universal hid money from "off-balance-sheet financing arrangements," failed to report ancillary revenue from sources such as music publishing, double-charged the studio for producing fees paid to Working Title and deducted millions of dollars in "unsubstantiated expenses."

Originally filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, the case was removed to federal court, where Universal hit back. The studio giant reported it had "re-examined its accounting" and come to the conclusion that StudioCanal was "actually significantly overpaid" on four movies.

Since then, the two sides exchanged more audit information and engaged each other in mediation.

On Friday, the parties submitted papers to dismiss the lawsuit with prejudice. The parties have agreed to keep terms of the deal confidential.

Robert Schwartz of O'Melveny & Myers represented StudioCanal. Richard Kendall at Kendall Brill & Klieger represented Universal.