October 19, 2011 2:18pm PT by Matthew Belloni
John Singleton Sues Paramount for $20 Million Over 'Hustle and Flow' Deal
Filmmaker John Singleton sued Paramount on Wednesday claiming the studio reneged on a promise to back two films as part of a 2005 deal for the breakout hit Hustle and Flow.
In the suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court and obtained by The Hollywood Reporter (read it here), Singleton, who produced the Craig Brewer-directed drama, says he entertained multiple distribution offers for the film after it premiered to raves at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival.
He signed a $9 million deal with Paramount, he claims, because the studio promised to “put” two additional features as long as their budgets didn’t exceed $3.5 million each and his producing fee wasn’t higher than 7.5 percent. (Singleton also granted the studio rights to Brewer’s Black Snake Moan.)
Hustle and Flow made $22 million worldwide and won an Oscar for best song (Moan made about $10 million) but Singleton says Par later added backed out of the “put” agreement by adding conditions that made it impossible to get the movies made.
Singleton, whose last film was the Taylor Lautner actioner Abduction, and his Crunk Pictures are seeking at least $20 million from Paramount and its MTV Films division.
A Paramount spokesman says:
“Paramount was hoping that John Singleton would produce two more pictures before his agreement with our studio ended in 2010, but that did not happen. Instead, he went on to direct Abduction for Lionsgate. Paramount fulfilled all of its obligations and his claims have absolutely no merit."
UPDATE: Singleton's legal team has responded to Paramount's statement with his own:
“As Paramount well knows, John Singleton did not begin work on Abduction until long after the puts expired. For Paramount to try to make his work on that film an issue now – having never raised it before – is typical of the lengths to which the studio will go in its desperate attempt to evade its legal and moral responsibilities.”
The suit, filed by Marty Singer and Michael Holtz at Lavely & Singer, alleges causes of action for fraud, rescission, unjust enrichment and breach of contract.