August 9, 2007 / 1:05 AM / 10 years ago

Tom Hanks sues over "Big Fat Greek Wedding"

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actor Tom Hanks and his wife have joined the star and screenwriter of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” in suing a film company behind the 2002 low-budget comedy hit for a share of profits they claim have gone unpaid.

The suit, filed on Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, accuses movie co-financier Gold Circle Films of a lack of transparency in its accounting, leaving writer-star Nia Vardalos, Hanks and his fellow producers uncertain of how much they are still owed.

The court action, which was brought by business entities controlled by Vardalos, Hanks, his wife, Rita Wilson, as well as producer Gary Goetzman, seeks unspecified monetary damages and a full accounting of film profits under court supervision.

In addition to Gold Circle, which is backed by billionaire Norm Waitt Jr., co-founder of Gateway Inc., the suit names Big Wedding Prods. and Vortex Pictures as defendants.

“The accounting statements rendered by defendants have been vague and inadequate in failing to provide information consistent with industry standards,” the suit says.

Collectively, the creative team has shared in profits rising into the tens of millions, but the suit challenges the gross-revenue tallies provided by Gold Circle and says the defendants have failed to provide a requested audit.

The surprise hit film, which cost a reported $5 million to make and earned Vardalos an Oscar nomination for her screenplay, raked in nearly $369 million at the box office worldwide, according to Web site boxofficemojo.com.

However, Gold Circle has reported gross receipts of $287 million from the film, the lawsuit says.

Vardalos’ contract stipulates she receive 8 percent of adjusted gross profits, while the three remaining plaintiffs are owed one-third each of the net balance remaining after backend disbursements, according to the suit.

In a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Gold Circle executive Scott Niemeyer called the lawsuit “frivolous” and “completely without merit.”

“Gold Circle has fully complied with its contractual obligations and has already paid plaintiffs a combined total of over $44 million in profits on ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding.’ Gold Circle has never thwarted the producers’ audit rights,” he said.

He added that Gold Circle has invited the producers to conduct an audit since first requesting one over two years ago, but they have failed to follow through. Niemeyer said potential audit claims have “since been time-barred under express terms of the applicable contracts.”

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