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Warner Bros. prevails in one 'Mortal Kombat' royalties lawsuit, two to go

March 3, 2011 |  7:05 pm

It's been 16 years since Warner Bros. released a movie based on the video game "Mortal Kombat," but it's still playing out in court.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge on Thursday ordered producer Larry Kasanoff's Threshold Entertainment to pay Warner Bros. more than $25,000 in legal fees after losing a suit claiming that it was owed $9.3 million in royalties for the period from 2000-04.

After a bench trial in December, Judge Ronald M. Sohigian ruled that Threshold, which produced the "Mortal Kombat" movie, was underpaid royalties for $14,981 in revenue improperly accounted for by Warner Bros. That's well below the legal costs of $25,412 that the judge ruled the studio is owed as the prevailing party.

Kasanoff's attorney, Howard Miller of the firm Girardi Keese, said his client intends to appeal the judge's ruling. "We think we have a right to a jury trial on critical elements," he said.

"This victory fully vindicates Warner's position that it accounted to Threshold fairly, appropriately and according to the parties' contract," a Warner Bros. spokesman countered.

Kasanoff has two other lawsuits pending related to "Mortal Kombat," which grossed $122.2 million worldwide at the box office. One relates to royalties from 2005-08. The judge previously ruled that the 2005-07 period could no longer be disputed in court due to the statute of limitations, but the case will continue for allegedly underpaid royalties for 2008.

In a third case, filed in U.S. bankruptcy court in Delaware, Kasanoff disputes Warner Bros. movie rights to the franchise from the studio's purchase of Mortal Kombat video game publisher Midway Games out of bankruptcy. "We believe we have substantial [intellectual property] rights in the Mortal Kombat franchise," said Miller.

-- Ben Fritz

If the economics of a continued deal make sense, then we’d be happy to renew our agreement with DWA. If they don’t, we’d wish DWA nothing but the best and we would continue to produce and release our own films