It looks like there’s going to be a big showdown over at Fast and Furious-land, and it’s not going to be between Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. For those unfamiliar, next summer, Universal is looking to release the film Hobbs and Shaw, starring the aforementioned Johnson and Statham, spinning off from their roles in the Fast and Furious franchise. The movie is currently in production and is being directed by Deadpool 2‘s David Leitch.
With all those promising elements, you’d think they’d be in good shape, but it looks like there’s been some drama brewing under the surface, as reported by Deadline. According to them, long-time franchise producer Neal Moritz sued Universal for “breach of oral contract and promissory fraud over being tossed out the door of the spinoff led by Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham.”
Basically, Moritz wants to be lead producer on the film, and if he’s not given the title, would like “tens of millions of dollars in damages in lost compensation.”
Here is what the complaint says:
“Against this backdrop of enormous success, one would assume that Universal would be grateful to Moritz and would adhere to its contractual commitments to him. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. As explained in detail below, despite reaching an oral 19 agreement with Moritz back in 2017, regarding the production of Hobbs and Shaw (“Hobbs and 20 Shaw” or the “Picture”)—which is the next film in the FF Franchise and based on an idea developed by Moritz and screenwriter, Chris Morgan — Universal has denied parties’ agreement, and cut Moritz out of the production. This occurred only after Moritz had developed the picture for over a year and a half with Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham and, once he agreed to come on board, the director, David Leitch.
“In an extraordinary show of bad faith, and just a few days before filming was set to begin on Hobbs and Shaw, Universal took the position that Moritz either had to amend his oral producer deal to accept substantially inferior financial terms, or be cut out of the Picture altogether. Remarkably, despite Moritz having complete Pay-or-Play protection on all of his last several deals on the FF Franchise and having relied on Universal’s oral promises, Universal also took the extraordinary position that it was free to exploit Moritz’s ideas for Hobbs and Shaw, and his work product over an approximately year-and-a-half period, without honoring its oral producer agreement,” the 20-page filing adds of the evolution of the multibillion-dollar box office franchise.
“Indeed, Universal has claimed that it can move forward with Hobbs and Shaw without providing Moritz with any credit or compensation. If Universal believes that it can treat one of its most successful producers with such extraordinary bad faith, one can only imagine how Universal treats its lesser established producers.”
In short, Moritz and Universal reportedly came to an oral agreement of his terms after he had put in a great deal of work, and Universal came essentially told him he had to take a lower offer or be pushed out of the film altogether.
Universal Pictures president Jimmy Horowitz’s supposed reasoning for the decreased pay had to do with an increased budget, but Moritz claims the current budget is actually $15 million less than when they came to the initial oral agreements.
Moritz is hoping to get this case in front of a jury. Will it interfere with the film’s summer release of production? We’ll have to wait and see.
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