John Singleton’s Lawyer Calls Paramount ‘Desperate’ in ‘Hustle & Flow’ Suit Claim

Studio says deal fell through because the filmmaker chose to direct Lionsgate’s ‘Abduction’ instead; Martin Singer begs to differ

UPDATE, Oct. 20, 12:06 p.m. PT

Producer John Singleton's lawyer, Martin Singer, is slamming Paramount's claim as to why it didn't finance two John Singleton films, per its deal to distribute "Hustle & Flow."

In a statement provided to TheWrap, Singer calls Paramount "desperate."

"As Paramount well knows, John Singleton did not begin work on ‘Abduction’ until long after the puts expired," Singer said. "For Paramount to try to make his work on that film an issue now — having never raised it before — is typical of the lengths to which the studio will go in its desperate attempt to evade its legal and moral responsibilities.”

On Wednesday, a Paramount spokesperson provided a statement to TheWrap suggesting that it didn't end up making the two Singleton movies — which the filmmaker claims were part of the deal when he agreed to let the studio distribute the 2005 film "Hustle & Flow" — because he chose to direct the Taylor Lautner film "Abduction."

“Paramount was hoping that John Singleton would produce two more pictures before his agreement with our studio ended in 2010, but that did not happen," the studio's statement reads. "Instead, he went on to direct 'Abduction' for Lions Gate. Paramount fulfilled all of its obligations and his claims have absolutely no merit."

Singleton filed suit against Paramount Wednesday, claiming that he allowed Paramount to distribute "Hustle & Flow" because they agreed to finance and distribute two other films from him, provided they didn't cost more than $3.5 million each.

However, the suit claims, when Singleton's production company, Crunk Pictures, tried to put the new movies into motion, Paramount threw up a bunch of roadblocks that made production impossible.

Singleton is seeking at least $20 million in the suit.

Previously…

"Hustle & Flow" producer John Singleton filed a lawsuit against Paramount Pictures and MTV Films Wednesday, claiming that they reneged on elements of the deal that they struck at the Sundance Film Festival for the 2005 film.

According to the suit, Singleton allowed Paramount to distribute the film in exchange for a modest $9 million fee, provided they finance and distribute two other films. (The suit alleges that Paramount agreed to this, provided the follow-ups didn't cost more than $3.5 million each.)

Read the full lawsuit here.

The suit further states that, because of the agreement, Singleton gave Paramount the distribution rights to the 2006 Samuel L. Jackson/Christina Ricci film "Black Snake Moan."

But the suit alleges that, when Singleton's production company, Crunk Pictures, tried to exercise its options on the two films, Paramount gave him the runaround.

"Unfortunately, when Crunk attempted to exercise its right to 'put' the two pictures with Paramount, Paramount began asserting self-imposed, non-existent conditions on the 'puts' that prevented Singleton from making the pictures," the suit reads.

And Singleton is unhappy about it — particularly, no doubt, because "Hustle & Flow" turned a tidy profit, earning more than $23 million worldwide on a $2.8 million budget.

Moreover, Singleton claims, he passed on a number of other, potentially more lucrative deals for "Hustle & Flow" because of Paramount's promise.

Singleton, who claims fraud, unjust enrichment, breach of contract and breach of implied covenant, is seeking no less than $20 million in the suit.

In a statement provided to TheWrap by a Paramount spokesperson, the studio claims innocence in the matter, saying that it was eager to fulfill its obligations to Singleton.

“Paramount was hoping that John Singleton would produce two more pictures before his agreement with our studio ended in 2010, but that did not happen," the statement reads. "Instead, he went on to direct 'Abduction' for Lions Gate. Paramount fulfilled all of its obligations and his claims have absolutely no merit."

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.