Trouble has hit the Fast and Furious franchise as the Hobbs and Shaw spinoff has been hit with a lawsuit.
According to Deadline, franchise producer Neal Moritz filed a lawsuit against Universal for breach of oral contract and promissory fraud after he was booted from the franchise’s first spinoff. Attorney Dale Kinsella called it a “classic example of Hollywood greed.”
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Filming kicked off early last month with a behind-the-scenes look at Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham in the characters of Hobbs and Shaw respectively, as well as the first look at Idris Elba’s new villain. The lawsuit says Moritz was removed from the project just days before cameras began rolling. Moritz is currently seeking to be reinstated as lead producer on the film, or to be paid “tens of millions dollars in damages in lost compensation.”
According to the complaint, which can be read by going here, Universal presented Moritz with the chance to either amend his oral producer deal and, in doing so, accept substantially inferior financial terms or be cut from the project altogether. Because Moritz refused to amend his contract, Universal forced him off the project. “Remarkably, despite Moritz having complete Pay-or-Play protection on all of his last several deals on the FF Franchise and having relied on Universal’s oral promises, Universal also took the extraordinary position that it was free to exploit Moritz’s ideas for Hobbs and Shaw, and his work product over an approximately year-and-a-half period, without honoring its oral producer agreement,” the filing states regarding Universal’s blockbuster franchise.
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Universal is said to have made its new offer to Moritz over the summer and then officially acted on its decision on September 7, when it cut Moritz out of Hobbs and Shaw. Per the filing, Universal has reportedly claimed it can move forward on the project without Moritz’s inclusion. And as we’ve seen courtesy of those behind-the-scenes photos, filming is still very much underway and has been since Moritz’s ousting. The decision to amend his contract was said to be due to an “increased budget” on the film, although Moritz and his legal team refute those claims, stating that at the time of the offer the budget on the flick was actually $15 million under budget.
We’ll have to wait and see if the lawsuit heads to trial, or if both parties will settle. As it stands right now, Hobbs and Shaw is still slated set to hit the big screen next summer.
Directed by David Leitch from a script by Chris Morgan, Hobbs and Shaw stars Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. The film will be released on Aug. 2, 2019.