Famed stuntman and director Hal Needham today filed a class action lawsuit against Warner Bros Entertainment alleging that the company ripped him off of home video royalties from Hooper. The seven-count complaint (read it here), filed by Stuntman Inc., Needham’s loan out company, is almost identical to filings made against Paramount Pictures, Universal City Studios, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and Sony Pictures Entertainment on January 16 over the same issue. Even the same four cooperating law firms are involved. In those cases, as in this one, the studios were taken to legal task for their practice of paying profit participants based on 20% of home entertainment revenues. Needham, like the plaintiffs in the other cases, says his contract with Warner Bros over 1978’s Hooper was made before the 20% figure became the industry standard in the early 1980s. Like the other cases, Needham claims his contract says he should be receiving royalties from 100% of the home video revenue from the Burt Reynolds film not 20%.
To put in perspective the kind of money this case would result in for the 81-year old Cannonball Run helmer, Needham’s suit claims that Hooper made more than $78 million domestically when it was released in the late ’70s – that’s a successful movie with a lot of years of home video revenues. Like the class action suits filed by representatives of directors Colin Higgins and Stanley Donen and the trustee of Charles Bronson’s estate Larry Martindale in mid-January, Needham is seeking unspecified punitive and other damages. Needham, who was given a Governor’s Award by the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences in 2012, has also requested a jury trial in the breach of contract suit.
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