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‘Out of Africa’ Producer Demands Millions From Universal Over 30-Year-Old Film

Producer Kim Jorgensen has filed a lawsuit against Universal, alleging the studio used creative accounting methods to deprive him of more than $5 million in proceeds from the 1985 film “Out of Africa.”

Jorgensen’s suit, filed Monday, alleges that Jorgensen was entitled under his contract to 5 percent of the net proceeds from the film, which starred Meryl Streep and Robert Redford and won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1986. The suit contends that the film cost $40 million to produce, and that Universal has grossed nearly $180 million in the decades since its release.

According to the suit, Jorgensen only learned he was entitled to additional compensation when he consulted an accountant in March 2015. Universal sent him a statement indicating it attributed $80 million in interest payments to the production costs from the film, according to the lawsuit. Under Universal’s reading of Jorgensen’s contract, this meant the studio had no “net proceeds” from the film, and was not required to pay residuals to Jorgensen, according to the lawsuit.

Jorgensen was executive producer on the project. The Danish-born producer acquired the film rights to the memoir of Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen), a fellow Dane, in 1982. He developed the project with Columbia Pictures and later with Universal, according to the suit. He produced a handful of other films in the 1970s and 1980s. He also founded art-house chain Landmark Theatres, which he later sold.

Universal did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

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