Lawsuits seem to follow Michael Jackson around like those zombies did in his iconic “Thriller” video. The latest legal snag comes from the clip’s director, John Landis, who claims the singer owes him profits from the video for the last four years.
Landis – who co-wrote and directed the 14-minute video in 1983 – filed the suit last week in Los Angeles Superior Court through his company, Levitsky Prods., against Jackson and Optimum Prods.
“After a spectacular theatrical premiere, the ‘Thriller’ video became a worldwide megahit and an iconic pop culture phenomenon that has continued to generate profits for defendants Optimum Prods. and Michael Jackson, who have wrongfully refused to pay or account for such profits to plaintiff,” the suit said.
The action accuses Jackson of “fraudulent, malicious and oppressive conduct” in failing to pay Landis 50% of the net proceeds. The suit includes the 1983 agreement between Jackson and Landis covering the video and an hour-long documentary, which Landis also directed.
News of the lawsuit comes two days after the Nederlander Organization announced it had obtained rights to produce a musical version of “Thriller,” with Jackson due to be involved in “every aspect” of the creative process.