After nearly two decades of dealing with producer Neal Moritz on the Fast and Furious franchise, Universal Pictures has apparently had enough with their contentious relationship. The studio has dropped Moritz as a producer on the upcoming Hobbs & Shaw spin-off starring Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, and they’re also keeping him from working on an other Fast and Furious movies that may come in the future, including Fast and Furious 9, which starts shooting in a few weeks. So what happened?
The Hollywood Reporter has details on the Fast and Furious legal dispute that has resulted in Neal Moritz being banished from the franchise that has racked up over $5.1 billion in box office receipts worldwide. However, this will be an expensive endeavor for Universal because Moritz has what is called a pay-or-play deal with the studio. That means he must be compensated for Fast and Furious movies regardless of whether or not the executives want him involved.
Universal is so sick of dealing with Neal Moritz that they’re willing to pay him just to stay away. So it sounds like the financial cost is worth the studio avoiding any future headaches, and reportedly the producer has been the source of many woes over the years. A studio insider says they have “a long, torturous history” of legal battles with Moritz with every single film in the franchise, and the issues they had negotiating with him on Hobbs & Shaw was the final straw.
For Moritz’s side of this dispute, he’s not going down without a fight. Not only does the producer claim that he was integral in coming up with the idea for Hobbs & Shaw with franchise writer Chris Morgan, but he contends that Universal owes him a $2 million fee and first-dollar gross (a percentage of the gross box office revenue from a film’s first day of release) for Hobbs & Shaw, which is part of his overall deal for the Fast and Furious franchise. Apparently this lawsuit rubbed Universal the wrong way because it named Universal president Jimmy Horowitz personally, and that’s when they decided to not only cut him out of Hobbs & Shaw, but the rest of the franchise’s future too.
Another part of the disagreement came from Universal’s attempts to strike a deal for a profit-sharing pool that would allow the studio to break even on the movie before giving key players their cut of the box office grosses. Producers like Dwayne Johnson were on board to participate, but Moritz supposedly made the process difficult, and the studio became increasingly frustrated.
It remains to be seen how this will all play out in the end, but it sounds like Neal Moritz is completely out of the Fast and Furious business, and Universal will fork over a hefty sum to keep it that way. The franchise will still continue going strong without him since Vin Diesel is prepared to move forward despite losing a longtime member of this makeshift family. Surely Diesel is sick of dealing with beef about this franchise and doesn’t want to have any more problems to deal with either.
via Slash Film