25 Jun – The Will Smith-starring biopic of tennis coach Richard Williams has not gone back into production but the drama sure has begun.
'Drama' as in the lawsuit that the team, including the actor himself, is now facing. TW3 Entertainment and Power Move Multi Media Inc have filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros Entertainment and Smith's company Overbrook Entertainment, as well as Star Thrower Entertainment and Richard Williams, according to The Blast.
Among the claims included in the lawsuit are breach of contract by the defendants and intentional interference with contractual relations.
"This case presents an unfortunate and tawdry situation: the cold and calculating misappropriation and interference with Plaintiffs' intellectual property. Plaintiffs' good faith and contractually protected efforts to bring an amazing story into visual art form were met with Defendants' greed and disregard for Plaintiff's existing rights," the lawsuit stated.
Reportedly, the plaintiffs had tried to resolve the issue prior to the start of production but were unsuccessful.
The plaintiffs claim that on 15 February 2017, Williams gave limited power of attorney to his son Chavoita LeSane for purposes of dealing with film and media rights for his 2014 memoir, "Black and White: The Way I See It".
They worked out a deal with LeSane to buy Williams' life and memoir rights for $10,000. They also sent a cease and desists to the producers of a competing project after they heard about it in July 2018. They met with Warner Bros. a few months later to pitch their story and following the studio's interest, a second meeting was set in October 2018.
However, in January 2019, they were informed that the studio was no longer interested in the biopic. This was followed by shocking news two months later when LeSane told them that a film deal, which included a more than USD1 million payment to Williams, had been worked out with the studio without the plaintiffs' involvement.
The plaintiffs were told they could no longer do a film based on the memoir, though they could still do a mini-series if they wanted.
The plaintiffs are now suing for unspecified damages, plus all profits from the movie is to be placed into a trust.
"King Richard" was first announced in March 2019, with Will Smith set to star and produce. Filming begun last January in Los Angeles but was halted since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has forced the release date to be moved from this 25 November to 19 November 2021.