Actor Richard Gere has filed a lawsuit against a production company, saying he is being extorted over book adaptation rights.
According to the lawsuit filed on Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Gere says he is being extorted for $500,000 (Dh1.8 million) after creative differences arose with a producing partner, reports Hollywood Reporter.
Gere says Random Acts Entertainment, owned by Scott and Anna Elias, optioned the rights to Bones of the Master: A Buddhist Monk’s Search for the Lost Heart of China by George Crane and in 2009 he entered into discussions with them about potentially acting in, directing and producing a film adaptation of the book.
The actor says they entered into a joint producer agreement, which included that they would split the purchase price if they decided to buy the rights and Anna Elias would be allowed to write one or more drafts of the screenplay.
Gere claims he paid $35,000 in 2015 but hasn’t been reimbursed for the other half, and therefore, the Eliases lost all rights in the project. Gere has said the parties reached a creative impasse.
“In order for Mr Gere to commit to the Project as the star and director, Mr Gere required that the screenplay be completed and approved,” wrote attorney Jeremiah Reynolds.
“This approval right has been consistently applied to virtually all films in which Mr Gere has starred.”
Elias’ script was “woefully inadequate” and Gere couldn’t commit to starring in the film, according to the complaint.
In response, the actor says he was threatened with a lawsuit that includes insulting and defamatory claims.
“Despite Mr Gere’s efforts to make the project a success, defendants, who are evidently desperate for money, have recently attempted to extort Mr Gere into paying them the sum of $500,000 to ‘buyout’ their interest in the project, despite their breaches and lack of investment,” stated Reynolds.
Gere is suing for breach of contract and is seeking a declaration that defendants have no rights in the book or the project.