Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena Williams, is being sued, along with Warner Bros. Entertainment and Will Smith's production company Overbrook Entertainment. According to TW3 Entertainment and Power Move Multi Media, Williams sold the rights to his life story to them first, well before Warner Bros. came on the scene. Smith and Overbrook had already started making the movie, titled King Richard, which had its production shut down earlier this year, due to current events.
According to the lawsuit, TW3 Entertainment and Power Move Multi-Media bought the rights for Richard Williams' story, based on his book Black and White: The Way I See It, for a mere $10,000 before Warner Bros. and Will Smith came on board. They claim that they were cut out of the new deal while also claiming they had an agreement that barred anyone else from telling Richard Williams' story on the big screen. You can read a portion of the lawsuit below.
"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."
Warner Bros. Entertainment reportedly secured the rights for Richard Williams' story for $1 million, which is quite a bit more than what TW3 Entertainment and Power Move Multi Media paid. One would think that a story about the parenting and coaching of Venus and Serena Williams, two of the world's biggest tennis stars, would be worth a lot more than $10,000. According to TW3 and Power Move, Warner Bros. and Overbrook knew that buying the rights to the story for $1 million would make their original contract worthless.
The King Richard lawsuit goes a lot further than one would think. Warner Bros., Will Smith's Overbrook Entertainment, Richard Williams himself, his son and sometimes business partner Chavoita Lesane, and production company Star Thrower Entertainment, along with its key executives are also named. Apparently, the deal with TW3 Entertainment and Power Move Multi-Media was originally spearheaded by Lesane.
In the King Richard lawsuit documents, TW3 Entertainment and Power Move Multi-Media want an injunction requiring Warner Bros. to put all the profits from the movie into a trust for their benefit. There are other financial damages included too. King Richard is supposed to hit theaters in November, though it looks like the release will more than likely get pushed to early next year, if not later. Will Smith plays Richard Williams in the movie, which documents his coaching and parenting style that helped bring Serena and Venus Williams to the top of the tennis world. The lawsuit more than likely will not have any effect on the release of King Richard. Deadline was the first to report on the King Richard lawsuit.