Buchwald v. Paramount Pictures Corporation

1992 WL 1462910 (1992)

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Buchwald v. Paramount Pictures Corporation

California Superior Court
1992 WL 1462910 (1992)

Facts

Humorist Art Buchwald and producer Alain Bernheim (plaintiffs) sued Paramount Pictures Corporation (Paramount) (defendant), alleging that Paramount’s popular film Coming to America was based on a concept Buchwald created and submitted to Paramount and that Bernheim helped develop. The parties’ contract provided that Bernheim would receive certain up-front compensation and a percentage of net profits if Paramount made a film based on Buchwald’s idea. The court determined that Coming to America was based on Buchwald’s idea and that parts of Paramount’s net-profit formula were unconscionable and therefore should not form the basis for the amount of compensation owed. Paramount’s expert witnesses nevertheless testified that Paramount owed nothing in excess of the up-front payments because although Coming to America earned at least $20 million and possibly as much as $100 million in gross profits, it generated no net profits. An expert for Buchwald and Bernheim testified that movie studios generally considered 1 percent of gross profits to be the equivalent of 2 percent of net profits.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Schneider, J.)

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