James Franco’s Production Company Sued Over ‘The Disaster Artist’ Script

Former student says he was duped into selling book adaptation

James Franco’s former teaching assistant Ryan Moody is suing Franco’s RabbitBandini Productions and Seth Rogen’s Point Grey Pictures over the script for “The Disaster Artist,” alleging that Moody was “induced” to sell the screenplay for the Oscar-nominated movie for $5,000, and as part of the deal would receive a credit on the film that he never received.

The suit said that Moody Franco and RabbitBandini managing agents Violet Jolivette and Iris Torres promised him an associate producer credit on “The Disaster Artist” if he sold the script, and give him the opportunity to write and direct the “similarly budgeted” movie “On the Bus.”

“In fact, however, RabbitBandini considered ‘On the Bus’ to be a micro-budget film and, after Moody had signed away his rights to ‘The Disaster Artist,’ Jolivette eventually told Moody that RabbitBandini would produce ‘On the Bus’ on a $50,000 budget,” the lawsuit said. “Moreover, RabbitBandini did not give Moody an associate producer (or any other) credit on ‘The Disaster Artist.'”

The suit, which was filed Feb. 28  in the Superior Court of California, continued: “Had Moody been aware of the true facts, he never would have sold ‘The Disaster Artist’ for only $5,000 and he brings that action to rescind that agreement.”

The suit also says that Jolivette and Torres threatened Moody that unless he sold his rights to the movie, RabbitBandini would not work with him again.

Moody eventually agreed to the sale because he was afraid to lose valuable contacts in the industry, but when Jolivette reduced the ‘On the Bus’ budget, he “realized he had been played.”

Moody was Franco’s teaching assistant in 2013 for Next Class and an English class Franco was teaching at UCLA at the time. The suit says that Franco asked Moody to write an adaptation of the book “The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside the Room,’ and requested a draft by November 2013. Moody said he spent “upwards of 60 hours per week on the screenplay” in addition to his assisting duties.

Moody worked on the script from November 2013 to March 2014, when Franco told him he was going to be replaced by different writers. While Moody was hesitant to leave the project, he eventually conceded and signed away his rights on May 2014.

Moody then tried to work with RabbitBandini on ‘On the Bus,’ but realized the production company was “not serious” about making the movie when the budget was slashed.

TheWrap could not reach RabbitBandini or Point Grey for comment. A rep for Franco did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.