Neal H. Moritz, a longtime Fast and the Furious franchise producer, is taking legal action against Universal Pictures after the studio allegedly stripped the 59-year-old of his supposed producer-credit on Hobbs & Shaw and dropping him from the project. Moritz has a long list of produced films which includes Phil Lord and Chris Miller's 21 Jump Street series with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, as well as rom-coms like Made of Honor and Sweet Home Alabama. But he's mostly known for his involvement in the long-running car-centric franchise spearheaded by Vin Diesel. However, it seems like he won't have any involvement in the series' first spinoff film.
Starring Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham reprising their roles as Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw, Hobbs & Shaw is directed by David Leitch. Not much is known about the film's plot, but it will feature Idris Elba as the film's main antagonist named Brixton - an international terrorist leader. Filming for the project started last month and is currently underway while drama is brewing involving Moritz and Universal Pictures over the former's supposed producer-credit in the movie.
The court documents obtained by Deadline say that "in an extraordinary show of bad faith, and just a few days before filming was set to begin on Hobbs and Shaw, Universal took the position that Moritz either had to amend his oral producer deal to accept substantially inferior financial terms, or be cut out of the Picture altogether,” adding that the studio can actually push through with the spinoff without the involvement of Moritz and without the legal responsibility to give him any credit or compensation.
Based on Moritz's camp, the producer is promised "$2 million in fixed compensation applicable against a 6% first dollar gross participation” and “participation would be reducible with all other first dollar gross proceeds participation on a pro rata basis, along with a defined Over Budget Adjustment provision, which was the first dollar gross compensation option in the FF8-10 Agreement.” This was, however, changed after Hobbs & Shaw's budget increased - a claim that Moritz's team is refuting. According to them, the film's production fund was even "fifteen million less at the time of this call than it had been when Universal had first sent the draft producer agreement to Moritz’s counsel in May 2018, which contained the first dollar gross deal to which the parties had orally agreed."
In short, Moritz is demanding to be reinstated as the lead producer of the film or be compensated. What makes this tricky for him, however, is that it seems like there are no documents to back up his claims as his deal with the studio is mainly an oral contract. The verbal deal was made following conversations with Universal Pictures chair Donna Langley and Universal Pictures president Jimmy Horowitz last spring during the early meeting regarding Hobbs & Shaw. Universal Pictures has yet to send out a statement regarding the matter and it's unclear whether this will have any repercussions to the movie itself which is currently filming.
- Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019) release date: Aug 02, 2019