Tennis fans in New York and around the country may know that Will Smith is producing a film about the life of Richard Williams and how he helped his daughters Venus and Serena become tennis champions. However, they may not know that Smith, his production company and Williams have been named as defendants in a lawsuit filed by an entertainment company that claims it purchased the rights to any motion picture based in part or wholly on the legendary coach’s life story three years ago for $10,000.
In the intellectual property lawsuit, the entertainment company claims that Williams’ son, who had been granted power of attorney to negotiate media deals, informed it about the upcoming film and told it that it could still produce a television series about the coach. The company says that it is entitled to any money that Williams and his son were paid by Warner Bros. and Smith’s production company for the rights to make “King Richard.” Court papers suggest that this figure could be higher than $1 million.
The entertainment company also claims that Warner Bros. was aware of and accepted the arrangement it had in place with Williams and knew that they were working on a film adaptation of his 2014 book “Black and White: The Way I See It.” The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified monetary damages and want the judge to issue an injunction that would place all of the profits generated by the film in a trust.
Attorneys with experience in business litigation may advise the plaintiffs in disputes like this one to take a firm but reasonable line during negotiations. They could point out that the defendants in these cases could be open to a swift settlement because they could lose far more if litigation drags on for months or even years.
Source: Deadline, “Will Smith & Warner Bros Grand-Slammed With Suit Over ‘King Richard’ Film Based On Serena & Venus Williams’ Father’s Life”, Dominic Patten and Tom Tapp, June 24, 2020