‘The Blind Side’ Movie Producers Defend Film Amid Michael Oher Lawsuit08/26/2023
The Blind Side’s producers are standing behind their Oscar-winning film despite inspiration Michael Oher’s ongoing legal drama with the Tuohy family.
“The Blind Side was a film that no major studio would make, back when Alcon financed the film in 2009. The prevailing ‘wisdom’ was that a football movie starring a woman would not appeal to football fans, it had too much football to appeal to families, and that movies starring Black actors don’t work overseas,” Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove, who are the co-heads of Alcon Entertainment, told The Hollywood Reporter in a lengthy statement on Thursday, August 24. “Our opinion was that it would appeal to everyone, and, in 2009, when this country, and the world more broadly, was more hopeful and less divided — it did.”
The Blind Side told the rags-to-riches story of football player Oher, now 37, back when he was a foster kid in high school. Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy ultimately took him in and helped him get into college. The film — which Johnson and Kosove wanted to highlight the “better angels of human nature” in the Tuohys’ acts of kindness and Oher’s “extraordinary courage” — starred Quinton Aaron, Tim McGraw, Sandra Bullock, Lily Collins and Kathy Bates. The 2009 film, which earned Bullock an Academy Award, had been adapted from Michael Lewis’ biography about Oher and the Tuohys.
“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,” Johnson and Kosove’s 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.”
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Oher filed a lawsuit against Sean and Leigh Anne, both 63, earlier this month, claiming that they never legally adopted him — as they publicly said they had — and instead forced him into a conservatorship in 2004. Oher, who previously played football for the Baltimore Ravens, is now seeking to terminate the guardianship and earn a share of the Tuohy family’s film royalties.
Sean and Leigh Anne, for their part, have denied Oher’s claims that they “tricked” him into the conservatorship and shut down Oher’s allegations that they made millions of dollars from the film’s production.
Oher filed additional court documents earlier this week that claimed that Sean and Leigh Anne “negotiated a contract” to adapt his life story on his behalf and never presented him with “any written documentation” of the earnings. After Oher alleged he was “kept in the dark” about the film’s profits, Johnson and Kosove have debunked those claims.
The Blind Side’s Michael Oher and the Tuohy Family: Where Are They Now?
The Alcon execs explained to THR that the movie rights to Lewis’ biography were negotiated by Twentieth Century Fox and then inherited by their firm when the movie went into production.
“The deal that was made by Fox for the Tuohy’s and Michael Oher’s life rights was consistent with the marketplace at that time for the rights of relatively unknown individuals. Therefore, it did not include significant payouts in the event of the film’s success,” Johnson and Kosove said, denying reports that the Tuohys received millions of dollars for the adaptation. “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). We anticipate that the Tuohy family and Michael Oher will receive additional profits as audiences continue to enjoy this true story in the years to come.”
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Johnson and Kosove’s team also made a “charitable contribution” to the Tuohys’ family foundation, offering the same deal to a nonprofit of Oher’s choosing. Oher allegedly “declined” their offer, according to the Alcon team’s statement.
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