Four studios sued over royalties on home video revenues

LOS ANGELES Wed Jan 16, 2013 7:45pm EST

LOS ANGELES Jan 16 (Reuters) - Four Hollywood studios were named on Wednesday in lawsuits brought by two directors and a representative for late actor Charles Bronson claiming what could be up to hundreds of millions of dollars in back royalties on films distributed to the home video market.

News Corp's 20th Century Fox, Viacom Inc's Paramount Pictures, Comcast Corp's Universal Pictures and Sony Pictures were sued in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The four lawsuits - described in a release as a class action - were also filed on behalf of others who might be added later, said Neville Johnson, an attorney representing the plaintiffs. He said the amounts owed talent on such contracts could total hundreds of millions of dollars.

Representatives for the studios were either unavailable or had no immediate comment.

Johnson said the plaintiffs' contracts predate the 1980s when it became the industry standard to pay talent a royalty based on 20 percent of home video revenues.

He said the plaintiffs' contracts entitle them to a royalty based on a 100 percent of receipts.

Bronson trustee Larry Martindale in the suit against Sony cited a contract for the late star's "Hard Times" film that provided for the late actor to share in 10 percent of 100 percent of receipts the studio collected.

"SPE's (Sony's) failure to include 100 percent of revenue has caused substantial damages to the plaintiff and class," the lawsuit said.

A similar suit against Fox was filed by filmmaker Stanley Donen over his 1975 movie "Lucky Lady," while the suits against Paramount and Universal were filed by filmmaker Colin Higgins over films "Foul Play" and "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas."

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