Will Smith’s movie-production company and Warner Bros. have ended a legal battle that threatened the release of their “King Richard” biopic about Richard Williams, the father of tennis powerhouses Venus and Serena Williams.
A multimillion dollar breach of contract lawsuit alleged that Richard Williams cut a deal to be portrayed by Smith in the upcoming biopic “King Richard” after he’d already sold the rights to his life story to someone else.
Filed in Los Angeles Superior court in June, the suit claimed that fledgling studios TW3 Entertainment and Power Move Multimedia are the true owners of the story of Richard Williams because they bought the rights to his 2014 memoir, “Black and White: The Way I See It,” for $10,000 from Williams’ son and business partner Chavoita Lesane in 2017.
They alleged that Lesane had been given power of attorney by the elder Williams for “purposes of dealing with film and media rights for his book,” and that the son was involved in an initial draft of a script chronicling Williams’ life raising two tennis stars.
Not long afterward, elder Williams struck a deal to sell the rights to his life to the “King Richard” filmmakers for $1 million.
TW3 is a small film and video game studio owned by producer Tom Walsh. Power Move, which is behind Season 1 of “Love & Hip Hop in NY,” is a Hollywood production company founded by actor and producer Reef Knox.
The lawsuit claimed that the defendants knew that production companies founded by Walsh and Knox owned the rights to Williams’ book at the time they struck their new deal, but never reached out compensate or credit them.
Lesane is also named in the suit, along with Will Smith and his production company Overbrook Entertainment, and Warner Bros.
On Monday, Warner Bros. said the legal battle “has been resolved informally.”
While both parties have indeed reached an agreement, TW3 and Power Move asked the court to retain “jurisdiction over the parties to enforce the payment term in the settlement” within three weeks, according to court documents dated Aug. 7.
“King Richard,” directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green behind “Monsters and Men,” is currently slated for release in late 2021. It had initially been scheduled to hit screens this fall until it met with COVID-19 production delays.
Smith, who plays Richard Williams, is joined in the cast by Saniyya Sidney, who plays Venus Williams, and Demi Singleton, who plays Serena Williams. Jon Bernthal, Liev Schreiber and Dylan McDermott also star in the production.
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