When was the last time you earned $9 million for producing a low-budget independent film and then sued the distributor to make another $20 million? If you’re Oscar-nominated director John Singleton, then the last time you did that was today.
Singleton is suing Paramount Pictures and MTV Films for allegedly going back on a contract stating that the studios would fund two low-budget Singleton-directed films in exchange for the rights to distribute the Singleton-produced “Hustle & Flow” in 2005. They also gave him $9 million as part of the deal.
Although critically acclaimed and the recipient of a best song Oscar (for Three 6 Mafia’s “It’s Hard Out Here For a Pimp”), “Hustle” only hustled up around $23 million at the box office. And that’s just the gross. After promotional costs and back-end deals (as small as they may have been), the drama probably only made a profit of about half of that. Nonetheless, Singleton is trying to get $20 million in his suit, which states that the 2005 deal with Paramount was supposed to allow him to make two future films budgeted under $3.5 million each. However, Singleton stipulates that even though they made a profit on the “Hustle” acquisition, Paramount began coming up with new conditions on the deal which made it impossible for the director to make those two films. According to TMZ, he further contends that he passed up golden opportunities to direct films at other studios while Paramount dragged its feet.
It’s important to note here that Singleton’s latest directorial effort was the Taylor Lautner-starring bomb “Abduction.” It’s a far cry from his Oscar-nominated debut “Boyz in the Hood” twenty years ago.
Everyone deserves their fair share of movie profits, but doesn’t $9 million for a movie that made $23 million sound like enough?