Guy Ritchie Hits Back Over ‘The Gentlemen’ Lawsuit, Denies Breach of Contract
Guy Ritchie has hit back at a lawsuit claiming he copied “The Gentlemen” from a script written by his friend Mickey de Hara.
Actor and writer de Hara, who had a role in Ritchie’s 1999 hit “Snatch,” filed a lawsuit in April in London’s High Court claiming the director had reneged on a contract relating to a sequel to 2008 gangster movie “RockNRolla.” De Hara asserts that Ritchie’s 2019 film “The Gentlemen” copies the characters and specific plot points that were part of his planned “RockNRolla” sequel.
In a defense filing submitted to the court this week, Ritchie denied that the “RockNRolla” sequel — which was set to be titled “The Real RockNRolla” — was based on de Hara’s life or that he had hired de Hara to write a sequel to the film.
Ritchie’s defense filing was delayed following a court order in May to give the parties time to negotiate and potentially settle out of court.
Ritchie says that he paid de Hara £25,000 in 2006 under a work for hire agreement in which the actor provided “anecdotes” and “acted as a sounding board” while Ritchie was writing the sequel. The defense document says “several” of those anecdotes “influenced aspects” of the final screenplay.
Ritchie admits that while he discussed the possibility of turning “RockNRolla” into a trilogy, with de Hara and another writer named Martin Askew potentially receiving credits and financial benefits, no agreement or detail ever ensued.
Ultimately, no sequel to “RockNRolla” was ever made, with Ritchie admitting in the defense document he thought the era of gangster films was over. “[Ritchie] believed that ‘RocknRolla’-type gangster movies were not generally being made at that time, and as far as [he] was concerned, those who had tried had failed,” the defense document states.
Under the 2006 agreement, Ritchie owned all the copyright that resulted from de Hara’s contributions and the director, who has also made films including “Sherlock Holmes” and “Aladdin,” acknowledges he made “some use” of the “RockNRolla” sequel’s screenplay while writing “The Gentlemen.” But he denied de Hara’s claim that the latter was a “reproduction of a substantial part” of the former.
In de Hara’s lawsuit, he sets out a table pointing out the overlap between what he says are his plot points and characters and those that eventually ended up in “The Gentlemen.” Ritchie admits there is some “similarity” because he used the “RockNRolla” sequel screenplay for inspiration, but some are substantially different. In particular, de Hara’s claim that a plot point in “The Gentleman” in which an aristocrat asks a drug dealer for help finding his daughter is a “widely used plot,” says Ritchie.
Ritchie’s defense document also points out that under WGA and WGGB rules, a writer must contribute 33% or more to a screenplay to earn a writing credit and, in his estimation, de Hara contributed “below 5%.”
De Hara is seeking over $250,000 as well as a credit on “The Gentleman.”
The case continues.
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