Director John Landis sued Michael Jackson and a Broadway producer on Wednesday, claiming the pair lack the proper rights to adapt a stage production based on “Thriller.”
Landis, who co-wrote and directed the groundbreaking music video sued the pop star and producer James L. Nederlander’s company over the possible show. Nederlander announced earlier this week that it had acquired the rights to “Thriller” and songs from Jackson’s blockbuster album of the same name.
Landis’ lawsuit seeks a judge’s order that Jackson lacks the adequate rights to transfer to Nederlander, and that the producer doesn’t have the authority to create a stage show based on the video or documentary that Landis directed.
Landis’ attorney, Miles J. Feldman, said the director would seek to stop the show “if it becomes necessary.”
Phone messages seeking comment from Nederlander and a New York attorney who has represented Jackson were not returned Wednesday.
Landis claims Jackson, who recently moved back to Los Angeles was paid more than $400,000 for the rights Landis owns.
Wednesday’s lawsuit came days after the “An American Werewolf in London” director sued Jackson, claiming he hadn’t been paid royalties on “Thriller” for at least four years.
Landis is personally suing Jackson over the Broadway production; the suit over royalties is on behalf of his company, Levitsky Productions Inc.
The earlier suit states Landis is owed 50 percent of profits from “Thriller” projects and alleges Jackson continues to license rights to video games, toys and comic books based on the 14-minute music video and a documentary. The lawsuit also seeks an accounting of the video’s profits.
“It makes no sense to me at all why they haven’t provided the payments and accounting to John,” Feldman said.