“Goodfellas” producer Irwin Winkler filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros. Entertainment Tuesday for breach of contract and fraud, claiming the studio reported the Academy Award-winning movie lost money to pocket the millions of dollars he’s owed.
According to the suit, the 1990 Martin Scorsese-directed gangster biopic earned more than $275 million at the box office and Winkler was entitled to 50 percent of net profits plus 5 percent of its gross receipts after “break-even.” Yet, according to the suit, the studio claimed the movie made no net profits and charged $40 million of interest on its $30 million cost of production.
“This was ‘studio accounting on steroids,’” the lawsuit reads, going on to state Winkler only discovered the discrepancy last year. “It was also fraud.”
The suit alleges that in the periodic reports Warner Bros. would issue to Winkler, who also produced the “Rocky” trilogy, “Raging Bull” and “The Right Stuff,” the studio intentionally misrepresented the receipts of “Goodfellas” and “massively understated the home video receipts.”
In a 2009 report, the studio’s last to Winkler before 2014, Warner Bros. reported total domestic and foreign video receipts of $32 million though the suit claims they were in fact $128 million. The difference was achieved by reporting one-fifth of actual video receipts from each of the 74 countries listed in the reports, according to the suit.
“But, until 2014, Warner failed to make any such disclosure to plaintiffs. On the contrary, Warner actively concealed such facts; and, until 2014, its written reports to plaintiffs remained materially misleading and, indeed, outright false.”
Winkler is seeking $18 million “or such greater sum as shall be found.”
“The allegations are baseless and we will vigorously defend,” a Warner Bros. spokesman stated.
“Goodfellas” is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
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