Filmmaker Guy Ritchie is being sued over his film ‘The Gentlemen’, which starred Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam and Michelle Dockery.
The lawsuit, which was filed in the London High Court last month by actor and writer Mickey De Hara, says that Ritchie commissioned De Hara to write a sequel to the 2008 gangster movie ‘RockNRolla’ based on De Hara’s “personal life experiences,” reports ‘Variety’.
But in 2018, after De Hara delivered the screenplay about a protagonist who runs a marijuana business, Ritchie told him “the time of the gangster movie was over,” intimating the project was no longer in development.
Two years later, Ritchie released ‘The Gentlemen’, in which McConaughey plays a gangster called Mickey who is trying to sell off his marijuana empire. De Hara claims the film is a “substantial” reproduction of his screenplay.
According to the lawsuit, ‘The Gentlemen’ copies De Hara’s cast of characters, their characterisation and “unique aspects of the plot” including a protagonist who runs a marijuana empire and an aristocrat with a drug-addicted child.
De Hara claims one scene in Ritchie’s film - in which a character called Coach, who leads a group of fighters called The Toddlers, gets into a scuffle with some youths in a cafe and squirts vinegar into their eyes - was directly reproduced from his screenplay.
He says his version also featured a character called Coach who led a group of thugs nicknamed The Baby Squad.
De Hara says after the film was released in January 2020 he texted Ritchie to point out the similarities between the two projects, to which Ritchie replied: “Mickey, I and my people have tried to contact you for some years now. There was no response. I am happy for us to sit down and have a chat.”
De Hara denies that Ritchie made any attempt to contact him regarding the project in advance of its release.
In April 2020, De Hara says he asked Ritchie to give him a writer credit on the film prior to its digital release but both Ritchie and one of his associates said it wouldn’t be possible and instead offered to give him a writing credit on another project that he wasn’t involved in.
“I have a feeling that might be too late Mickey,” Ritchie texted, according to the legal filings.
“I’ll try, but what I can do is get you a credit on something in the future. Let me see what I can do. Honestly, we did try to get hold of you.”
In the lawsuit De Hara says he “has no intention of seeking credit for original work that was not created by him” and is instead seeking “credit for his original work that has been used in ‘The Gentlemen’ without his consent and without payment of the agreed remuneration.”
The writer is also seeking over $250,000, which includes a share of the film’s profits.
De Hara claims he first collaborated with Ritchie on the 2000 movie ‘Snatch’ before the director asked him to write 2008 feature ‘RockNRolla’, which starred Gerard Butler, Thandiwe Newton, Idris Elba and Tom Hardy. At Ritchie’s behest, De Hara says, he wrote the ‘RockNRolla’ screenplay with another writer named Martin Askew, with Ritchie planning to turn the film into a trilogy.
On IMDB, Ritchie is credited as the sole writer of ‘RockNRolla’ while De Hara and Askew are credited as associate producers. De Hara also had a walk-on role in the film.
The writers on ‘The Gentlemen’ are credited as Ritchie, Ivan Atkinson and Marn Davies. Ritchie has yet to file his defence to the lawsuit and a rep for the director did not respond by press time.