There’s some legal action down that Yellow Brick Road. Just in time for the upcoming 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz, Warner Bros were sued Wednesday by the estate of the Emmy winning late son of the actor who played the Tin Man in the movie. At dispute in the breach of fiduciary duties action (read it here) filed in federal court in Georgia is a documentary on the classic pic that the estate of Jack Haley Jr says WB is choking off unless it is given full rights to. In requesting a jury trial, plaintiff Kelly Brandt of Haley’s estate and trust wants a summary judgment that they are and always have been 50% owners of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: The Making Of A Movie Classic. The estate also wants unspecified damages, all its legal costs covered and an accounting of all profits from the docu plus profits from a new docu that uses some of the same material. The director of 1974’s That’s Entertainment as well as the docu and other films, Jack Haley Jr died in 2001. Making Of A Movie Classic has been distributed with the 1939 original movie on video and DVD since the late ‘80s and has made over $4 million, of which the Haley estate has received $2,083,451 as of August 2013, according to this week’s filing.
The October 30 filing also claims that since 2011, WB has wanted all the rights to the docu for just $150,000. A situation that has left the film in distribution limbo. Something that the estate says the studio is dumb to allow. “Defendant’s actions have violated the common sense admonition not to ‘cut off your nose to spite your face’ as The Wizard of Oz has enjoyed renewed interest and popularity recently and a number of derivative works have recently enjoyed great success,” the 47-page civil complaint notes. “Every day that passes leads to dollars lost by the joint adventurers due to Defendant’s unilateral and unlawful decision to both mothball the Project and exclude Plaintiff from the competing derivative work and joint venture opportunity,” it adds. In case, you don’t know exactly what is being referred to, the complaint details at length the likes of Disney’s recent Oz: The Great & Powerful and various other upcoming Ozish projects
The full list of defendants on the complaint is Warner Bros Pictures, Warner Home Video, Warner Bros Entertainment Inc. – be interesting to see what WB fire back with but either way, don’t think we’re in Kansas any more guys (Couldn’t resist). The plaintiffs are represented by Jason Graham, Raegan King and Kaitlyn A. Dalton of Atlanta’s Graham & Penman LLP and by Neville Johnson of Beverly Hills firm Johnson & Johnson LLP.