Over 20 years after the comedy came out, the Oscar winner wants his accountants to take a look at the studio’s books to see what he could be owed – and he’s taking the House of Mouse to court over their refusal. What About Bob? c0-star Richard Dreyfuss today sued Walt Disney Pictures for breach of contract and other claims over the defendants not letting the firm of Robinson & Company do an audit for him and the widow of Turner & Hooch producer Raymond Wagner, who also wants a look at Disney’s ledgers.
“Based on information and belief, Disney refused to let Robinson Inc. perform these audits on behalf of Christine Wagner and Richard Dreyfuss because Robinson Inc. is a particularly effective and aggressive auditor who is usually able to achieve large recoveries for its clients,” says the jury-seeking filing (read it here) over why they think Disney won’t let the auditors see their ledgers on the 1991 and 1989 pics.
“Because Disney will not allow Richard Dreyfuss’ chosen auditor to audit, because of the delay caused, and because of Disney’s overall hostility towards audits, an accounting under Court supervision is warranted,” the 7-claim filing says. “Moreover, this is a case where the accounts are so complicated that an ordinary legal action demanding a fixed sum is impracticable.” According to the plaintiffs, Disney only want to use one of the Big 4 of Ernst & Young, KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers or Deloitte exactly because they don’t understand the intricacies of Hollywood accounting as well as the former Warner Bros Director of Motion Pictures’ firm does.
“Motion picture and television companies detest having to pay net and gross profit participants and have consistently and historically withheld significant amounts of profits from participants,” bluntly notes the filing. “This is why profit participation auditors in the motion picture and television industries exist; these auditors oftentimes find monies due to profit participants.”
Dreyfuss, Wagner and Robinson & Company are also very blunt about how studios try to push “talent,” as the lawsuit says, to handle things in private arbitration and not lawsuits like theirs. Some don’t even dare go that route to pursue potential funds for fear of “the implied threat of a blackball,” the complaint says. “It’s a one-sided world where corporations assert their control over talent who do not have the leverage to otherwise protect themselves,” Dreyfuss, Wagner and Robinson & Company say. Obviously the Jaws star has decided he does have the leverage to try to chew into what’s his. Though it’s a long wait – remarkably, today’s filing claims that there is a 3-year waiting list to do an audit on Disney properties.
Starring Dreyfuss and Bill Murray, What About Bob? has made nearly $64 million in the U.S. and Canada since its May 17, 1991, release. Opening on July 28, 1989, the Tom Hanks and Beasley the Dog starring Turner & Hooch has brought in nearly $72 million domestically. And then there are all those home video sales, international sales and other revenue to add to the total for the two films — one way or another, this is going to add up to something.
Neville L. Johnson, Douglas Johnson and Jordanna Thigpen of Beverly Hills firm Johnson & Johnson are representing Dreyfuss, Wagner and Robinson & Company in the case.