The producers behind The Blind Side have broken their silence about the lawsuit filed ten days ago by the film’s subject, Michael Oher.
Oher, 37, filed a legal petition on Aug. 14 against the Tennessee couple portrayed in the film, alleging they tricked him out of royalties by “falsely” claiming to adopt him, while instead convincing him to sign documents making them his conservators.
The petition said Leigh Anne Tuohy, Sean Tuohy and their two biological children pocketed millions of dollars from the Oscar-winning movie, but Oher got nothing.
In their response to the petition, the Tuohys accused Oher of trying to pull off a $15 million “shakedown.”
On Thursday, Alcon Entertainment co-founders and co-CEOs Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove issued a joint statement to The Hollywood Reporter defending the film and revealing financial details.
The two executives said Oher and the Tuohy family were all paid for their contributions to the movie, and the Tuohys received much less than Oher’s lawsuit claims.
“Alcon has paid approximately $767,000 to the talent agency that represents the Tuohy family and Michael Oher (who, presumably, took commission before passing it through),” the statement read. “The notion that the Tuohys were paid millions of dollars by Alcon to the detriment of Michael Oher is false.”
Johnson and Kosove noted that they additionally made a charitable contribution to the Tuohy family’s foundation. They said they offered to “donate an equal amount to a charity of Mr. Oher’s choosing, which he declined.”
The film was based on the 2006 book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis, and told the story of how Oher went from homelessness to an All-American football player and NFL draft pick with help from the Tuohy family.
The drama starred Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne, Tim McGraw as Sean, and Quinton Aaron as Oher, and arrived in theaters in 2009. The film earned $309 million at the worldwide box office, received a best picture Academy Award nomination, and won Bullock a best actress Oscar.
Thursday’s statement from Johnson and Kosove said Alcon Entertainment didn’t negotiate the terms of the deal. Instead, the contracts were negotiated by Twentieth Century Fox and inherited by Alcon when they were brought in to produce the movie.
Johnson and Kosove discussed the Tuohys’ character in their statement and referred to the couple’s “generosity” and “acts of kindness.”
“Michael’s academic accomplishments and athletic achievements demonstrate this. His raising of his own children now, who shall know a life of possibility the likes of which Michael never knew as a child, is the ultimate testament to Michael’s own strength and courage,” the statement said.
“The Blind Side is verifiably authentic and will never be a lie or fake, regardless of the familial ups and downs that have occurred subsequent to the film,” the statement continued. “Indeed, scores of trusted individuals, not the least of whom is Michael Lewis, one of our country’s most respected writers and journalists and the author of the book The Blind Side, have spoken of their first-hand knowledge of the authenticity of the Tuohys loving Michael dearly and raising Michael as their son through the end of high school, and then throughout college and onto the NFL.”