Who owns the rights to Sorcerer and how much money has the 1977 thriller made? That’s what William Friedkin has asked the court to find out for him. In a five-page civil complaint filed today in LA Superior Court, the Oscar-winner claims that Paramount and Universal are not allowing him domestic rights to Sorcerer nor a full accounting of how much the movie has really made. Friedkin directed and produced Sorcerer and contends he has profit participation in the movie. The suit, filed by lawyer Eric M. George of Century City-based firm Browne George Ross LLP, says both studios have “recently disclaimed rights to exploit the Picture in the United States, and admitted ignorance as to who, if anyone, currently has such rights.” The suit goes on to add, “Bafflingly, however, defendants persist in denying that Friedkin has any rights to exploit the Picture.” The director also says that he has not received a participation statement in “over 20 years” – which makes one think Friedkin should secure some new accountants while he’s at it.
While a critical success back in the late 1970s, Sorcerer was helmed by Friedkin after back-to-back hits The French Connection and The Exorcist. But it was not a big draw in theaters, grossing just over half its $22 million budget. Now 35 years after Sorcerer came out, Friedkin is asking the court to order a look at studio the books “to determine the true amount of revenue derived” from the movie and his “share of such revenue.” Friedkin believes he has the rights to the movie and to show the print he has, and is asking the court for a three-day hearing on the money matters and to “issue a declaration as to who has the right to exploit Sorcerer in the United States and abroad”.