Comics co. claims studio had accounting irregularities

Feuding partners Marvel Enterprises and Sony Pictures are at it again.

This time, Marvel is claiming that Sony employed “Hollywood accounting” to deprive it of merchandising royalties on “Men in Black” to the tune of $6 million.

In a suit filed Thursday in L.A. Superior Court, Marvel claims that although the first “MIB” grossed $493 million in worldwide revenues and “MIB II” grossed $275 million, Sony’s accounting says the films actually lost money. Specifically, Marvel claims accounting irregularities such as unexplained and excessive charges for advertising and overhead.

As explained in the complaint, “The Men in Black” comic was originally published by Malibu Comics, which was acquired by Marvel in 1995. In 1992, Malibu made a film deal with Columbia Pictures under which it would receive 35% of all merchandising income and 50% of income from merchandising of interactive rights, less fees.

The suit, which alleges breach of contract, among other claims, seeks an accounting and estimates damages as not less than $6 million.

Marvel is represented by Carole Handler of O’Donnell & Shaeffer, who also filed Marvel’s suit against Sony involving Spider-Man.

A Sony spokeswoman said Thursday evening, “We haven’t seen the complaint. This is the first we’ve heard of it.”

In April Marvel filed a $50 million suit against Sony Pictures claiming that Sony hijacked Spidey by doing everything in its power to dissociate Marvel from the character in the minds of retailers. Sony filed a countersuit alleging that Marvel is using the litigation to force an unjustified renegotiation of its agreement with Sony. The case has since been sent to a reference before a private judge.

In June, Marvel sued Sony Electronics, claiming that the company has refused to license Spider-Man for use on its consumer electronics products and that it instructed its sister company Sony Pictures not to license Spider-Man to any of Sony Electronics’ competitors. The tortious interference suit seeks in excess of $10 million in damages.

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