Universal is latest studio to make claim against Blockbuster


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Bankrupt DVD rental chain Blockbuster Inc. is increasingly finding its biggest content suppliers in Hollywood are turning into opponents in court.

Universal Pictures on Wednesday became the third movie studio, along with 20th Century Fox and Summit Entertainment, to submit a filing in Blockbuster’s bankruptcy court case claiming that it is owed millions of dollars in unpaid fees.


The disputes threaten to deprive Blockbuster of new DVDs as it continues to operate while seeking a buyer. Blockbuster said on Monday that it is putting itself up for sale after its Chapter 11 reorganization effort failed.

In the filing, Universal’s home entertainment unit said it is owed $6.4 million for movies it has shipped to Blockbuster since the company filed for bankruptcy in September, including ‘Charlie St. Cloud’ and ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.’ The studio said it is ‘at risk’ for another $7 million that will come due ‘in the next few weeks and months.’

Universal requested that Blockbuster be compelled to immediately pay the overdue funds or that the studio be allowed to reclaim its DVDs.

Universal noted that when Blockbuster initially filed for bankruptcy, the company sought permission from the court to continue paying studios in order to secure their content during the reorganization process. ‘Without the complete ongoing support of the studio,’ the company said in court documents at the time, ‘Blockbuster essentially would be out of business.’

Last week, Fox told the court that the studio is at risk for $7 million that will come due from Blockbuster in the next several months.

Summit Entertainment in January filed a court motion requesting immediate payment of $9.5 million it said it was owed. A hearing in the Summit case has been set for March 2.


A Blockbuster spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

-- Ben Fritz


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