'Fast and the Furious' Producer Wants to Bring Universal President Into Spinoff Lawsuit

Meanwhile, Universal is asking the court to compel arbitration in the dispute with Neal Moritz.
Universal Pictures/Photofest

The producer suing Universal over his future Fast and the Furious franchise profits wants to bring the studio's president to the suit — meanwhile, Universal wants to move the fight to arbitration.

In October, Neal Moritz sued Universal, claiming the studio backed away from an oral agreement that entitled him to first-dollar gross participation on the upcoming Hobbs and Shaw spinoff starring Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham.

Now, Moritz wants to add James Horowitz as a defendant — because he claims it was Horowitz who promised him first-dollar gross on the spinoff.

Attorney Dale Kinsella, in a motion filed Friday, explains that Moritz didn't initially name Horowitz as an individual defendant because the parties were still in settlement negotiations, and says Universal filed its answer early, along with a notice of removal, before he realized a resolution wasn't possible and could amend his complaint.

The producer also claims that, after he filed his lawsuit, Universal retaliated against him by exercising the pay-or-play clause in his contract and removed him from The Fast and the Furious 9. If the court denies the motion, Kinsella says Moritz will have to consider suing Horowitz for promissory fraud in L.A. County Superior Court. Moritz is also asking U.S. District Judge Manuel Real to remand the fight to state court.

Also on Friday, Universal attorney Bruce Van Dalsem filed a motion asking Real to compel arbitration.

"Universal and Moritz entered into at least seven written producer agreements during that period, each of which requires that disputes between them that are in any way 'related to' those agreements be resolved through binding arbitration, and that any question about whether a dispute is subject to arbitration be decided by an arbitrator in the first instance," writes Van Dalsem. "Universal has demanded that Moritz agree to arbitrate his claims, but Moritz has refused on the grounds that the arbitration clauses in the parties’ producer agreements do not apply to his claims in this case. This Court need not even decide that question, however, because the parties have agreed, in at least seven written contracts, that an arbitrator is to decide whether claims between them are subject to arbitration."

A hearing on the matters is currently set for December 17.