‘Napoleon Dynamite’ Producers Sue Fox Searchlight for $10M+

The lawsuit contends Fox Searchlight paid producers less than half the royalty rate it promised

The producers of the sleeper hit "Napoleon Dynamite" are suing Fox Searchlight for more than $10 million, accusing the company of paying less than half than promised for home video sales.

In a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Wednesday, Napolean Pictures Ltd., the production company that made "Napoleon Dynamite," says that the movie's home video royalties were "drastically lower than Fox represented and agreed it would be."

A Fox representative did not return a request for comment Thursday.

The producers' lawyer, Martin Singer, wrote that the production company "never would have entered into a distribution deal with Fox" if it had known how little it would receive.

"Napoleon Dynamite" debuted at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 17, 2004. A bidding war immediately erupted. Producers went with Fox.

According to the lawsuit, a focal point of negotiations "was the royalty that Napoleon would receive for home video sales of the picture."  That worked out to 31.66 percent of net profits, the lawsuit says.

"Numerous other distributors were interested in aquiring distribution rights to the picture in 2004," Singer wrote, "all of whom would have paid a significantly higher royalty on home video sales than the 9.66 percent royalty reported by Fox."

The lawsuit claims that Fox paid "far less than the industry standard minimum royalty rate of 20 percent of home video sales."

Producers are suing for breach of contract, promissory estoppel and negligent misrepresentation, among other charges.

The quirky comedy, starring Jon Heder, was made for about $400,000 and has grossed more than $46 million.