According to court documents obtained by The Blast, TW3 Entertainment and Power Move Multi Media Inc are suing Warner Bros Entertainment, Star Thrower Entertainment, Will Smith’s company Overbrook Entertainment and Richard Williams.
The lawsuit accuses the defendants of breach of contract, intentional interference with contractual relations, and several other claims.
Will Smith is currently filming the biopic “King Richard” about Serena and Venus’ father and how he helped coach them into superstars. Will is taking on the role of Richard in the film set for release in 2021. Production was shut down temporarily due to the pandemic.
In the lawsuit, TW3 and Power Move Multi-Media start off writing, “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 plaintiffs claim Richard is the author of a book called “Black and White: The Way I See It”, a memoir of his “extraordinary life” which was first published in 2014.
The suit claims on February 15, 2017, Richard gave limited power of attorney to his son Chavoita Lesane, for “purposes of dealing with film and media rights for his book.” They worked out a deal with Richard’s son to buy his life and memoir rights for $10,000. TW3 says they spent a bunch of time working on the project in hopes of making a deal with a major studio.
In July 2018, they claim to have first heard of a competing project about Richard Williams. They fired off cease and desists to the producers and thought it was over. Months later, TW3 says they set up a meeting with Warner Bros and pitched them the Richard Williams story. They claim Warner Bros was interested and they informed Richard’s son. A second meeting took place in October with Warner Bros representatives and the studio wanted to make a deal.
In January 2019, Warner Bros informed the plaintiffs they were no longer interested in the Richard Williams biopic. However, two months later they were contacted by Richard’s son who told them a deal with Warner had been worked out without them. Richard’s son said the plaintiffs could still do a mini-series if they wanted but no film.
The plaintiffs were furious and demanded an explanation. Chavoita told them the Warner Bros deal paid Richard over $1 million. A couple of months later they learned Will Smith was starring and producing in “King Richard.”
TW3 says they tried to resolve the issues before production started but they were unsuccessful. They are suing for unspecified damages and all profits from the Will Smith movie to be placed into a trust.