Nearly 62 years after its premiere, “Gone With the Wind” still generates so much money that the heirs of producer David O. Selznick do give a damn.
Selznick’s relatives are suing Turner Entertainment Co., seeking an accounting and profits of approximately $10 million. It’s not the first time the parties have clashed; a 1997 lawsuit ended in a settlement.
The suit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, seeks an arbitration of the heirs’ claims pursuant to a 1997 agreement. The plaintiffs collectively own a 5% interest in the film, which they inherited from David Selznick’s brother, Myron, who was a well-known agent.
Recounting Hollywood lore, the suit explains that Selznick orchestrated an enormously successful campaign to drum up public interest in the film, and the public decided Clark Gable had to play the role of Rhett Butler. Unfortunately, Gable was under contract to MGM, which was owned by Loew’s. Loew’s finally agreed to loan Gable, provide financing and distribute the film. Selznick paid a distribution fee and took a share of the revenues.
In 1986, Turner purchased MGM’s film library, and Time Warner subsequently purchased Turner. The heirs brought their first suit in 1997. According to the current suit, Warner Bros. took over that litigation and repeatedly said it would account honestly for profits. But the parties are back in court again fighting over profits for several years during the mid-1990s.
The Selznick heirs are represented by Bradley Raisin and Armenak Kavcioglu. Turner Entertainment could not be reached for comment.