January 28, 2009 / 8:34 PM / 10 years ago

"Thriller" video director sues Jackson for profits

Michael Jackson waves to fans at a U.S. military facility in Tokyo, as he walks to board a helicopter bound for Camp Zama, a U.S. military base west of Tokyo, to join a fan appreciation event March 10, 2007. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The director of the influential music video “Thriller” has sued pop star Michael Jackson over his share of profits from the 14-minute work.

Filmmaker John Landis, who co-wrote and directed the 1983 “Thriller” video, filed a breach of contract lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court just days before Broadway producers announced this week they had bought the rights to adapt the video for the stage.

The 14-minute “Thriller” video, featuring dancing zombies and Jackson himself, was first aired in 1983 and remains one of the most influential music videos worldwide. Landis also made a documentary about the making of the “Thriller” video.

Landis, director of movies including “An American Werewolf in London” and “The Blues Brothers,” said in his lawsuit that he had not received his 50 percent share of the profits from “Thriller” — including licensing rights — for at least the past four years from Jackson’s now-defunct company Optimum Productions.

The lawsuit accuses Jackson, 50, of “fraudulent, malicious and oppressive conduct,” claiming that Jackson had failed to produce full and proper accounts for the past four years “and earlier.”

Jackson has led a low-profile life since his acquittal in 2005 of child sex abuse charges and his spokesman could not immediately be contacted for comment on the Jan 21 lawsuit.

He is currently living in luxury rented accommodation in Los Angeles after spending time in Las Vegas, Ireland and Dubai in the past three years.

Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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