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Another Claim on the Baron

January 14, 1988

One of many delays in starting up "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" resulted from the claim of movie investor Allan Buckhantz that Gilliam's "Munchausen" infringed on Buckhantz's remake rights to a 1942 German film directed by Josef von Baky.

Buckhantz, a 63-year-old Lithuanian-born survivor of Nazi concentration camps, said he acquired the rights from a German film company that was liquidated after World War II. He told The Times that he submitted a script and storyboards for his "Munchausen" to Columbia in late 1985, but never got a reply from the studio.

Gilliam insisted that the material in his script that was not freshly contrived came from the public domain. But before negotiations could be concluded, "Munchausen's" producers were obliged by Columbia to buy an insurance policy indemnifying the studio against any future claims by Buckhantz.

On Nov. 18, Buckhantz filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court, demanding a total of $80 million from Columbia, Coca-Cola, a Coca-Cola attorney and others for allegedly spreading a claim that Von Baky's "Munchausen" was a Nazi-oriented propaganda film. Under an agreement with Buckhantz's attorney, Columbia and other defendants haven't yet filed a formal reply to the suit.

Meanwhile, Buckhantz said he is planning to produce a musical stage version of "Munchausen" in West Berlin, and expects the old movie to be released on videocassettes in the United States within the next month.

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