Will Smith’s movie about the life of the father of Serena Williams and Venus Williams, which is scheduled to be released in 2021, is facing a multi-million-dollar breach of contract lawsuit in US courts that could shut down production and distribution.
Defendant has not compensated or credited Plaintiffs for the use of such ideas and materials. Accordingly, Defendant has breached, and continues to breach, its implied-in-fact contract with Plaintiffs. TW3 and Power Move Multi Media filed complaint
The litigants are calling for ‘an injunction requiring all profits for any project using the Richard Williams Rights to be placed in trust for Plaintiffs’ benefit’.
Reinaldo Marcus Green is directing the motion picture, with Zach Baylin credited as the screenwriter.
Smith is set to star as Richard Williams, who coached his daughters to super-stardom, while the cast also includes Saniyya Sidney (Hidden Figures) as Venus Williams and Demi Singleton (Godfather of Harlem) as Serena Williams.
Along with the AT&T-owned studio, Bad Boys star Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment, Richard Williams himself, his son and sometimes business partner Chavoita Lesane and production company Star Thrower Entertainment and its key executives are also named as defendants in the convoluted lawsuit.
TW3 Entertainment and Power Move Multi Media’s legal dispute over the King Richard biopic is centred around the rights to Richard Williams’ life.
The plaintiffs claim in the suit they bought the rights to Williams’ book for a mere $10,000 three years ago from Lesane, who was also involved in an initial draft of a script for the project.
“This case presents an unfortunate and tawdry situation: the cold and calculating misappropriation and interference with Plaintiffs’ intellectual property,” says the complaint from TW3 Entertainment and Power Move Multi Media filed in LA Superior Court on Tuesday against Smith’s loan out company and Warner Bros, among others, over the Reinaldo Marcus Green directed film.
“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 complaint details that the elder Williams allegedly gave limited power of attorney to Lesane, for ‘purposes of dealing with film and media rights for his book’.
It was in that vein that TW3 and PMMM supposedly picked up the rights to the memoir of the father of two of the greatest athletes of all time for what could be considered nickels on the dollar.
In the past couple of years, the elder Williams supposedly sold the rights to his life to the King Richard filmmakers for $1 million, thereby kneecapping the earlier TW3 and PMMM agreements.
The thrust is that Star Thrower and WB knew TW3 and PMMM owned the rights to Williams’ book and life.
“However, Defendant has not compensated or credited Plaintiffs for the use of such ideas and materials.
“Accordingly, Defendant has breached, and continues to breach, its implied-in-fact contract with Plaintiffs,” the suit states in some of the bluntest language to be found in the entire complaint.
“Plaintiffs reasonably expected to be compensated for such use of any of their ideas or materials, and Defendant Warner Bros. voluntarily accepted Plaintiffs’ offer and disclosures, knowing the conditions on which they were made, i.e., that any use of any of Plaintiff’s ideas or materials in any motion picture, television program, merchandising program, or otherwise, whether by Defendant Warner Bros. or any of its affiliates, carried with an obligation to, inter alin, compensate and credit Plaintiffs for such use,” the filing also says.