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James McAvoy in It Chapter Two

Just ahead of the highly-anticipated release of IT Chapter Two next weekend, one of the film’s producers is being sued by his former associate, John Powers Middleton, for his alleged “fraud and deceit.” A complaint was filed against Roy Lee on Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court accusing him of breach of contract, fraud, unfair competition and unjust enrichment. Middleton is pursuing millions in damages over their past business dealings.

John Powers Middleton says Roy Lee has led him to lose millions after he took advantage of their reported contract. Middleton says they had a deal from 2010 to 2016 where he would pay half of overhead expenses in exchange for a 20% cut and receive an executive producer credit, according to THR. Middleton allegedly covered all of Lee’s projects with Warner Bros. including Lego movies, IT Chapter Two and over 30 others.

However, when the business partners renegotiated their deal, Lee demanded $1 million in overhead each year and threatened to take his name off projects he’d already been promised credits and fees for. Middleton also claims Roy Lee took advantage of over $7 million in “benefits,” including using Middleton's Malibu home, their chartered Cannes yacht and NFC Championship tickets. Middleton is co-owner of the Philadelphia Phillies and son to the baseball team’s managing partner.

He also says someone in connection to Roy Lee called IMDB to remove his project credits. John Powers Middleton suspended his relationship with him in 2017 when he lost out on being named an executive producer on the in-development Minecraft adaptation, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part and The Stand, the upcoming miniseries starring James Marsden and Whoopi Goldberg.

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Roy Lee has been a prominent producer in Hollywood since serving as an executive producer for The Ring in 2002 under his production company Vertigo Entertainment. He has primarily been attached to horror projects such as the Grudge and Quarantine franchise, but has also been a part of Martin Scorsese’s The Departed and DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon trilogy. Lee recently executively produced Godzilla: King of the Monsters and the upcoming Stephen King tale Doctor Sleep.

John Powers Middleton has producing credits that date back to 2013, notably sharing projects with Roy Lee on Oldboy, The Lego Movie, Run All Night and The Disaster Artist. The 35-year-old producer additionally created a production company with actor Casey Affleck in 2014, and they both worked on Oscar-winning film Manchester By the Sea together.

The latest project involved in the case is IT Chapter Two, which hits theaters September 6. The Stephen King adaptation is already breaking ticket sale records and receiving overall positive reviews from critics.

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