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Serena And Venus Williams’ Dad Sued Over Movie About His Own Life Story

by : Lucy Connolly on : 24 Jun 2020 17:44
serena and venus williams dad being sued with will smith 1PA Images

The father of two of tennis’s most famous players, Serena and Venus Williams, is being sued alongside Will Smith over a movie about his life.

The biopic King Richard, which tells the story of how Richard Williams helped coach his two daughters into tennis stars, is currently in production, with Smith at the helm as the proud father.

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However, the pair have now found themselves at the centre of a lawsuit thanks to a dispute over who holds the rights to the movie, with two production companies claiming they bought the rights to Williams’ life story long before Smith began work on it.

serena and venus williams with dad richardvenuswilliams/Instagram

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, Richard Williams and his son Chavoita Lesane.

The suit, a seven-claim complaint that was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday, June 23, sees the plaintiffs claim they bought the rights to Williams’ book for $10,000 three years ago from Lesane, who reportedly was involved in an initial draft of a script for the project.

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The complaint claims Williams allegedly gave limited power of attorney to Lesane in 2017 for ‘purposes of dealing with film and media rights for his book’. TW3 Entertainment and Power Move Multi Media Inc then worked out a deal with Williams’ son to buy his life and memoir rights.

In July 2018, the production companies claim to have first heard of a competing project, leading them to send cease and desists to the producers. Believing that to be the end of it, TW3 alleges to have set up a meeting with Warner Bros to pitch them the Richard Williams story.

They claim Warner Bros was interested and informed Lesane, after which a second meeting took place with Warner Bros representatives in October that year. At this point, the plaintiffs claim the studio wanted to make a deal.

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However, the complaint goes on to state that in January 2019, Warner Bros informed the companies they were no longer interested in the biopic. Two months later though, TW3 was contacted by Lesane who told them a deal with Warner Bros had been worked out without them.

When the plaintiffs demanded an explanation, the suit claims Lesane informed them his father had supposedly sold rights to his life to the King Richard filmmakers for $1 million. A couple of months later, they learned Will Smith was starring and producing in the film.

‘This case presents an unfortunate and tawdry situation: the cold and calculating misappropriation and interference with Plaintiffs’ intellectual property,’ the complaint states.

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It continues:

Plaintiffs’ good faith and contractually protected efforts to bring an amazing story into visual art form were met with Defendants’ greed and disregard for Plaintiffs’ existing rights.

Will SmithPA Images

The plaintiffs are suing for unspecified damages and are seeking an injunction requiring Warner Bros to put all the profits from the King Richard movie, which is set for release in November 2021, into a trust for their benefit.

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Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: Film and TV, Film, Now, Sport, Tennis, Will Smith

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The Blast
  1. The Blast

    Will Smith Sued Over Serena & Venus Williams Father Biopic 'King Richard'