Universal and StudioCanal Smooth Out Litigation Woes


Comcast’s (NASDAQ:CMCSA) Universal Studios finished cleaning up a messy lawsuit brought against the company by France’s StudioCanal in February. The case began in Los Angeles Superior Court and eventually reached the federal level. The lawsuit claimed that Universal lopped off a bigger part of the profits than it had a right to for films that were made in partnership with StudioCanal. The partnership produced a total of 44 films, including About a Boy, Billy Elliot, Love Actually, and O Brother Where Art Thou?

An audit was done on six of the 44 films. It was found that millions of dollars in the films’ incomes had not been made clear to StudioCanal. The suit said that Universal had intentionally concealed funds from “off-balance-sheet financing arrangements,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. On top of that, claims that supplemental funds such as music publishing revenue were not reported, as well as claims that Universal overcharged StudioCanal for certain fees worth millions.

Universal said that upon a second examination of its accounting, it saw that StudioCanal was in fact “actually significantly overpaid” for four of the 44 films the two firms worked on together. Following further auditing and mediation, the two dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice and have remained silent as to the details of their deal, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Despite this setback in production relations, Universal has been having a successful go of it in the past few months. In 2013, it even beat Disney’s (NYSE:DIS) surging Frozen in domestic revenue with its film Despicable Me 2. Despicable Me 2 made $918 million worldwide and $367 million domestically, according to Box Office Mojo.

In fact, according to Box Office Mojo, the animated film won the third slot for top 2013 movies, coming behind just Iron Man 3 and Catching Fire. Despicable Me 2 came in second in the 2013′s worldwide films, between Iron Man 3 and Catching Fire.