Warner Bros. Haunted By Lawsuit from Producers of 1990 ‘It’ Miniseries
Frank Konigsberg and Larry Sanitsky, executive producers of the first adaptation of Stephen King’s horror novel, It, say they were wrongfully denied an opportunity to participate on Warner Bros’ recent It movies.
In a lawsuit filed on Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, the two allege they had a contractual right to engage in a negotiation for any “sequel, series, remake, or spinoff,” plus are entitled to a minimum share of 10 percent of net profits on any such subsequent production.
“This action arises out of the Warner’s utter failure to honor its obligations,” the complaint introduces.
The latest version of It was released through Warner Bros’ New Line banner in 2017 and grossed more than $700 million worldwide. A sequel hits theaters in September.
Konigsberg and Sanitsky ran Telepictures Productions in the mid-1980s before that company was merged with Lorimar Productions. Today, Telepictures is a division of Warner Bros that produces such shows as Ellen, Extra and TMZ Live.
The plaintiffs say they shepherded development of the 1990 miniseries, but that despite its success, a profit participation statement in 1995 showed the miniseries was in deficit with no profits to distribute. The two say they then waited 25 years for another profit statement, when finally this past March they got one showing they were entitled to $1 million in profits. The lawsuit questions whether that’s really everything, and Konigsberg and Sanitsky include claims of fraud over the accounting.
The portion of the dispute pertaining to the more recent movies figures to be the higher stakes battle given how It has reached blockbuster status.
“That the 2017 feature film is indeed a ‘remake’ is indisputable,” states the complaint.
Indisputable? Clever lawyers may attempt to argue that the 2017 movie is a remake of the Stephen King book rather than the 1990 miniseries. Whether or not that matters probably depends on the interpretation of the Konigsberg contract.
The litigation may also be destined to explore whether Warner Bros actually assumed obligations towards Konigsberg and Sanitsky. The lawsuit asserts the belief that the studio is the “successor-in-interest to Konigsberg’s and Sanitsky’s 1986 agreement with Lorimar-Telepictures,” and whether that’s specific enough could be challenged by Warner Bros. See, for example, the way Warner Bros once successfully beat back a lawsuit over the Oscar-winning film Gravity by an author who claimed contractual rights with a company that had been assumed.
The plaintiffs are represented by Dale Kinsella, an attorney who is also presently representing a producer who claims being shafted from the Fast and Furious spinoff Hobbs & Shaw.
Warner Bros had no comment about the lawsuit.