The project, which has been in development for a while, is titled “King Richard” and is based on Richard Williams’ 2014 memoir “Black and White: The Way I See It.” However, Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment and Warner Bros. are being sued over whether or not they actually have the rights to the intellectual property.
Deadline reports that a complaint from TW3 Entertainment and Power Move Multi Media was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court Tuesday alleging that they purchased the rights to the book for a mere $10,000 three years ago from Williams’ son and business partner Chavoita Lesane. Lesane was allegedly given limited power of attorney over Williams’ book “for the purposes of dealing with film and media rights for his book.”
The outlet reports that Williams supposedly sold the rights to his life story to the “King Richard” filmmakers for $1 million, calling the actual ownership of the rights into question.
Warner Bros. had no comment when reached by Fox News. Representatives for Smith did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“This case presents an unfortunate and tawdry situation: the cold and calculating misappropriation and interference with Plaintiffs’ intellectual property,” the complaint reads, according to the outlet. “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.”
What’s more, TW3 and PMMM allege that Lesane was even involved in the first draft of a script that they were working on before “King Richard” ever came about. In their complaint, the two companies demand wide-ranging unspecified damages from any profits made by the Smith-led film.
Their court action also seeks “an injunction requiring all profits for any project using the Richard Williams Rights to be placed in trust for Plaintiffs’ benefit.”
“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 said.
Despite the legal questions the lawsuit raises, “King Richard” is reportedly still on track for a 2021 release.