The Fast & Furious franchise is no stranger to conflict. Of course, a couple of years back, stars Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson had a very public feud that seemed to lead to Johnson heading to his own little spin-off called Hobbs & Shaw. Additionally, one of the franchise’s other stars, Michelle Rodriguez, had expressed interest in doing other work that helped prop up female actors, potentially hinting at her exit.
But there’s been another big bit of trouble brewing in the form of the lawsuit from long-time franchise producer Neal Moritz. Last year, we reported on Moritz suing Universal over the Hobbs and Shaw spin-off, and according to an extensive piece from THR, Universal is looking to drop him from all future films going forward, spin-offs or not.
The piece cites a few sources who paint the picture of a producer who is incredibly hard to work with. For fear of paraphrasing incorrectly, I may as well cite the piece itself.
“A studio insider contends Universal tried, even struggled, in good faith to work out a deal with Moritz but after “a long, torturous history” of fighting him to the courthouse steps on every movie in the franchise, the company got fed up when he became combative on Hobbs & Shaw. Says another source familiar with the franchise’s story: “It’s always hard getting those movies up and running. There are a lot of heavy hitters, a lot of emotion, a lot of people who feel ownership.” Moritz is very exacting on his deals, this person adds, and “has a legal team that likes to get on the phone and send letters.”
“At first the fight was only over Hobbs & Shaw. According to a Universal source, the decision to ban Moritz from all Fast and Furious movies came after the producer named Horowitz personally in his lawsuit. It seems clear that this was a legal maneuver intended to prevent Universal from forcing Moritz into arbitration based on his contract. So maybe Universal really took the move as an unforgivable offense or maybe the studio seized an opportunity to rid itself of a combative and expensive partner. Or both. The studio declined to comment.”
Regardless, it looks like the years of Moritz working with Universal are over. While we don’t know the overall outcome, all signs point to Universal paying Moritz to keep him out in hopes of hanging on to a franchise that’s turned into a box office boon for them. For what it’s worth, star Vin Diesel seems to be ready to go ahead without Moritz joining them.
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