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Thursday, 24 May, 2001, 08:45 GMT 09:45 UK
Exorcist creators sue Warner
The Exorcist
The Exorcist: Second most successful re-release
The writer and director of classic horror film The Exorcist are suing distributors Warner Brothers over their cut of payments for the re-issued version of the movie.

Exorcist director William Friedkin and author William Blatty both receive a share of profits from the film, but say that the values of deals Warner struck with TV stations for the new version were deliberately kept low.

Author William Blatty
Blatty: Gets 39% of the film's net profits
A Warner spokesperson described the claim as "ludicrous".

The film won two Oscars in 1974, and the re-issued version - which came out last year - included 11 extra minutes of footage and digitally enhanced sound.

Friedkin and Blatty claim that the deals were not as lucrative as they should have been because the film was sold to Warner's sister TV companies.

The Turner Television Network (TTN) and Turner Broadcasting System (TBS), which are part of AOL Time Warner, paid no added license fee for the new version of the film, the lawsuit says.

And the CBS television network paid $1.5m (1.06m) which was a quarter of the market price for the film, according to Friedkin and Blatty.

The lawsuit says this "extremely low rate" was set because of a special CBS arrangement with the Turner companies.

Both Turner companies are named as defendants in the suit.

Actress Ellen Burnstyn
Ellen Burnstyn: Oscar nomination for her role
Friedkin and Blatty also say that the film was undervalued when it was sold as part of a 14-film package to TNT, TBS, the A&E cable network and various overseas broadcasters.

The package was worth $18m (12.7m) but Warner valued The Exorcist at $110,000 (77,800), less than the average and the same as films like The Incredible Mr Limpet and It Lives Again.

Warner spokeswoman Barbara Brogliatti said the studio has not seen the lawsuit.

"Our policy is not to comment on matters that are in litigation, especially those that are ludicrous," she said.

Friedkin, who won an Oscar for directing The French Connection, receives 10% of all net profits from the film.

Blatty wrote both the best-selling novel on which the movie was based and the Oscar-winning screenplay, and receives 39% under his deal with Warner.

The new version of The Exorcist became the second most successful re-issue behind the Star Wars series after it went back to cinemas last year.

Actors Jason Miller, who died recently, and Ellen Burnstyn and Linda Blair were all nominated for Oscars for their roles in the original film.

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See also:

15 May 01 | Film
Exorcist star Miller dies
04 Mar 01 | Entertainment
TV premiere for The Exorcist
20 Oct 00 | Entertainment
US rates Billy with Exorcist
22 Sep 00 | Entertainment
The Exorcist is restored
10 Feb 99 | Entertainment
Exorcist finally possesses videos
30 Oct 98 | Entertainment
The scariest movie ever made?
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