Richard Gere is suing his former film production partners for an alleged breach of contract. The actor claims he is being extorted for a considerable sum over adaptation rights.
Not A Very Zen Response
Gere's dispute has primarily to do with the rights to adapt Bones of the Master: A Buddhist Monk's Search for the Lost Heart of China by George Crane. Gere claims he's being extorted for money by his ex-production partners after reneging on their initial deal. He filed a suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court last Friday.
The legendary actor and star of romantic movies Runaway Bride and Pretty Woman claims that Random Acts Entertainment optioned the book rights. Gere, a Buddhist himself, began a discussion with them back in 2009, with a view to star in the feature adaptation as well as directing and producing it.
The parties entered into a joint producer agreement. However, one of the caveats was that they would split the purchase price if they ultimately buy the rights and that one or more drafts of the screenplay would be written by Anna Elias, partner and co-owner of Random Acts with Scott Elias.
Although Gere confirms he was paid $35,000 in 2015, he was not reimbursed for the other half. The actor is, therefore, arguing that the Eliases lost all rights to the project. He claims that this has resulted in a creative dispute.
"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. This approval right has been consistently applied to virtually all films in which Mr. Gere has starred," argues attorney Jeremiah Reynolds.
The script submitted by Anna Elias was allegedly terrible, leading Gere unable to commit to star in the movie. Gere revealed he was threatened with a lawsuit as a result, which included false and defamatory claims against him.
"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," the complaint alleges.
The 68-year-old actor is suing the Eliases for breach of contract. He says Random Acts owe him $17,500 for the rights to the book, which he put up at the start.
He is also seeking a signed declaration that the Eliases have no rights to the book or the project itself. Gere claims the move is a blatant extortion attempt.