Roy Lee, a producer on the new “It” films, “The Lego Movie” and many others, has been accused by a former associate of fraud and sued for tens of millions of dollars in damages regarding fees and credits across dozens of Lee’s projects in a complaint filed to L.A. County Superior Court Wednesday.
John Powers Middleton, a former associate of Lee’s and also a co-producer on “The Lego Movie,” says in the lawsuit he lost out on millions of dollars of fees as well as executive producer credits due to Lee’s “fraud and deceit.” Middleton is suing Lee for fraud, breach of contract, unfair competition, unjust enrichment and accounting.
Middleton says that he had a deal with Lee and his company RL2 Films between 2010 and 2016 in which he would get 20% of fees and executive producer credits on films if he were to cover half of the overhead expenses. 40 projects in all, many of them within Lee’s deal with Warner Bros., are listed in the lawsuit as as ones to which Middleton feels he is entitled to fees and credits, including films such as “The Lego Ninjago Movie,” “Godzilla: King of Monsters,” “It: Chapter Two,” “The Exorcist” TV series and more.
Middleton further accuses someone from within Lee’s team of contacting IMDB and instructing them to remove executive producer credit mentions from his page. The lawsuit states that Lee used Middleton’s home, a chartered yacht in Cannes and got into sporting events, parties and dinners, which the lawsuit says amounts to $7 million in value.
“Lee used these benefits to create the appearance of wealth and success to enhance his personal and professional reputation and esteem within the entertainment industry and provided perks to A-list talent and prospective business partners, in order to obtain new motion picture deals for himself and his company,” Middleton says in the complaint. “There will be no Hollywood happy ending for Lee. Lee’s fraud and deceit will not go unpunished, and he will be held fully accountable for the millions of dollars of harm caused by his malicious and tortious misconduct.”
Middleton and Lee cut ties after Middleton was removed as an executive producer on “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” and “Minecraft the First Movie,” according to the lawsuit. He says Lee demanded $1 million per year in overhead when it came time to renegotiate their deal, and that Lee additionally threatened to remove Middleton’s credits on projects for which he had already been promised fees.
Middleton is the son of Philadelphia Phillies owner John S. Middleton. He’s represented by Martin Singer.
Lee declined to comment on the suit.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.