Will Smith and Warner Bros. have been hit with a new lawsuit over the upcoming film, “King Richard,” which is directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green and is based on the life of Venus and Serena Williams’ father Richard Williams.
In court docs filed in LA Superior Court this week, TW3 Entertainment and Power Move MultiMedia allege that they purchased rights to Williams’ 2014 memoir, “Black and White: The Way I See It,” for $10,000 from Williams’ son and business partner Chavoita Lesane in 2017. The parties are now seeking unspecified damages from the movie and an injunction that would require “all profits” for any project using the rights to be put into a trust for their benefit. Smith’s production company Overbrook Entertainment, Warner Bros., Richard Williams, Lesane, production company Star Thrower Entertainment, and several others are listed as defendants.
“King Richard” is currently scheduled to be released in late 2021. However, considering that the film has already been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, it could very well be pushed back again.
“Defendant Warner Bros. used Plaintiffs’ ideas and materials in King Richard, and such ideas and materials provide substantial value to Defendant,” the lawsuit states. The plaintiffs also point to their assessment of this case as representing a “cold and calculating misappropriation and interference” with their intellectual property.
The lawsuit also claims that Lesane had been granted power of attorney by his father for “purposes of dealing with film and media rights for his book.” Lesane was involved in the initial draft of the script detailing Williams’ life raising his two tennis star daughters, Venus and Serena. Shortly after, the elder Williams landed a deal to sell the rights to his life to the “King Richard” filmmakers for $1 million. The lawsuit claims that the defendants knew that studios founded by TW3 Founder Tom Walsh, and Knox, who founded Power Move, owned the rights to Williams’ book at the time they struck their new deal with filmmakers. However, the defendants never reached out to compensate nor credit them.
Overbrook nor Warner Bros. has commented on the lawsuit.