Even though the first Fast and Furious spinoff, Hobbs and Shaw, has just started filming, the movie is already in a bit of legal hot water.
Fast and Furious franchise producer Neal Moritz has just filed a lawsuit against Universal for "breach of oral contract and promissory fraud," after being removed as a producer of the Jason Statham, Dwayne Johnson spinoff. Deadline reports that Moritz was let go as the producer ahead of the start of production, and he wants to be either be reinstated, or be paid "tens of millions in damages and lost compensation."
“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,” claims the complaint, which seeks a jury trial. “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.”
“Indeed, Universal has claimed that it can move forward with Hobbs and Shaw without providing Moritz with any credit or compensation,” the document continues. “If Universal believes that it can treat one of its most successful producers with such extraordinary bad faith, one can only imagine how Universal treats its lesser established producers.”
The complaint explains that Moritz took part in frequent communication with Universal Pictures chair Donna Langley and Universal Pictures president Jimmy Horowitz, which started with the Hobbs and Shaw pitch with writer Chris Morgan. This allegedly resulted in a verbal deal in which Moritz was supposed to receive “$2 million in fixed compensation applicable against a 6% first dollar gross participation.”
This could be lengthy legal battle between the studio and the producer, but it probably won't have a major impact on the actual production of Hobbs and Shaw, which is being directed by Deadpool 2 helmer David Leitch.
Hobbs and Shaw is currently set to to arrive in theaters on August 11, 2019. Statham and Johnson will both reprise their roles from the Fast and Furious films, while Idris Elba will star as the main antagonist.