Released back in 2015, the Will Ferrell-Kevin Hart comedy Get Hard didn't exactly receive the warmest reception when it hit theaters. It faced accusations of racism at its SXSW World Premiere, was bruised by a primarily negative critical response, and then failed to justify its $40 million budget with a $111 million global box office take. It's not exactly a great Hollywood tale, but now it's getting stranger, as the movie is caught in the middle of an odd lawsuit
Variety is reporting that screenwriter Victor Dean is suing the production company Codeblack Enterprises, claiming that they had a hand in his original idea being stolen and turned into the movie we know as Get Hard. Dean says that he originally wrote a treatment titled Prison 101 back in 2009, telling the story of "a securities broker who has to learn how to survive prison from a 'streetwise individual.'" He allegedly brought the idea to the Codeblack (a division of Lionsgate), and apparently went as far as to suggest that the project could star Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell. The project did not move forward as a feature from there, but Dean claims the company gave Get Hard producer Adam McKay access to his treatment and also showed him Dean's self-produced version of Prison 101 that was made as a four-episode web series.
The lawsuit has gotten a response from Codeblack Enterprises, though it certainly doesn't sound as though they are taking the whole thing too seriously. In a statement, Codeblack CEO Jeff Clanagan said,
This was a Warner Bros. movie. I have nothing to do with Get Hard. I have no connection to it... This guy is really reaching. He'd have to prove the writers of Get Hard somehow got the treatment. I don't even know who the writers from Get Hard were... Maybe he does have a similar idea, but a prison-themed comedy is not rocket science. There's a bunch of ideas like that.
Get Hard is credited to multiple individuals, with Adam McKay, Jay Martel and Ian Roberts receiving "story" credits, and director Etan Cohen sharing "screenplay" credits with Martel and Roberts.
Jeff Clanagan isn't completely without connection to Get Hard, as he is a business partner of Kevin Hart's. That said, Hart himself wasn't even a producer on the comedy, simply credited as a star, and Clanagan was not in any way credited with the comedy's development or production.
There is no number figure put on Victor Dean's lawsuit against Codeblack Enterprises, though the grievances listed include "breach of confidence, conversion and unfair business practices." In addition to requesting damages, he is also requesting that all copies of the Prison 101 treatment in the company's possession be destroyed. We'll have to wait and see how the case ultimately progresses.