Will Smith, Warner Bros. sued over Richard Williams biopic

The actor is slated to play Serena and Venus' father in the upcoming film 'King Richard'

Will Smith is amongst those named in a new lawsuit over King Richard, an upcoming movie based on the life of Venus and Serena Williams’ father Richard Williams.

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According to a report released by Deadline on Wednesday, Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment, Warner Brothers, Richard Williams, Williams’ son Chavoita Lesane, production company Star Thrower Entertainment, and others are also listed as defendants.

In the suit, the plaintiffs, TW3 Entertainment, and Power Move Multi-Media, allege they purchased rights to Williams’ book three years ago from Lesane for $10,000. They are now asking for unspecified damages from the movie and an injunction that would mandate “all profits” for any project using the rights to be put into a trust for their benefit.

“This case presents an unfortunate and tawdry situation: the cold and calculating misappropriation and interference with Plaintiffs’ intellectual property,” says the seven-claim complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday. “Plaintiffs’ good faith and contractually protected efforts to bring an amazing story into visual art form were met with Defendants’ greed and disregard for Plaintiff’s existing rights.”

Serena Williams and her sister Venus Williams ride with their father Richard Williams at a tennis camp in Florida in 1992. (Ken Levine /Allsport)

“Defendant Warner Bros. used Plaintiffs’ ideas and materials in King Richard, and such ideas and materials provide substantial value to Defendant,” the lawsuit continues.

King Richard is directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green but due to the industry-wide COVID-19 production shutdown, it’s currently not slated for release until late 2021. In addition to Smith the cast includes Aunjanue Ellis, Demi Singleton, Saniyya Sidney, Jon Bernthal, Liev Schreiber, and Dylan McDermott.

Deadline reports that Warner Bros has declined to comment on the matter and Overbrook did not respond to requests for comment either.

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Richard Williams, now 78, is widely credited with being the visionary behind his daughters’ career. Without any formal training, he coached both of them to Grand Slam tennis success in the early years of their careers.

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