Michael Oher alleged in a legal filing earlier this month that the Tuohy family "received millions" for the film, while he received nothing
The production company that financially backed The Blind Side is speaking out and defending the Oscar-winning film against “many mischaracterizations and uninformed opinions” in the last 10 days, since the film’s subject Michael Oher alleged the Tuohy family lied to him about being adopted.
In a lengthy statement sent to PEOPLE on Thursday afternoon, Alcon Entertainment co-founders and co-CEOs Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove defended the film’s authenticity and clarified that Oher, now 37, and the four members of the Tuohy family were collectively paid approximately $767,000 in payments delivered through their talent agency for The Blind Side.
The deal 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," read their statement. "Therefore, it did not include significant payouts in the event of the film’s success."
It continued: “As a result, the notion that the Tuohys were paid millions of dollars by Alcon to the detriment of Michael Oher is false."
The production company said the film rights to Michael Lewis’s 2006 book about Oher, and the associated rights contracts were negotiated by Twentieth Century Fox and inherited by Alcon when the film was greenlit.
Oher alleged in a legal filing Aug. 14 that Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy had misrepresented what a conservatorship was when they had him agree to it at age 18, and said the Tuohy family — and their two children — “collectively received millions of dollars and Michael received nothing for his rights” to the film.
The 2009 movie made $330 million at the box office and has continued to make money in the years since.
Whether the money was paid out to Oher is at the center of his legal petition filed earlier this month. The retired NFL star is also asking the Tuohys for a full accounting of the money made from the film, alleging in a new motion this week that the Tuohys never once filed an accounting of his finances with the Shelby County clerk.
The Tuohys were required to file an accounting of Oher’s finances every year since 2004 under Tennessee law. Multiple conservatorship attorneys in Tennessee have told PEOPLE recently that they questioned whether Shelby County simply didn't check in with the Tuohys.
In his petition, Oher has accused the Tuohys of enriching themselves off his name and likeness in the wake of The Blind Side. According to the New York Times, Leigh Anne Tuohy has charged $30,000 to $50,000 per appearance as a motivational speaker, per available online estimates. The Times also reports that the Tuohys’ Making It Happen foundation, which pledges to help children who “fall through the cracks of society,” has brought in more than $1 million since 2010, including some donations from Sean Tuohy’s businesses, according to its financial disclosures. The Times found that the foundation has spent less than 20% of its total received donations on charitable efforts, according to a Times review of records dating to 2010.
Alcon Entertainment also responded to an allegation in Oher's petition that "Sean Tuohy amended the agreement for Oher’s life story in 2010 without his knowledge, after which the [Tuohys’ Making It Happen] foundation received $200,000 from Alcon Entertainment." Alcon did not comment on the circumstances but said Thursday the company "offered to donate an equal amount to a charity of Mr. Oher’s choosing, which he declined."
Oher’s legal filing has led to a wave of backlash against the Tuohys and the film in recent weeks. Alcon Entertainment’s statement Thursday defended the core message of the film and why it was made.
“In the story of The Blind Side we saw the better angels of human nature,” Johnson and Kosove’s statement read. “We saw it in the Tuohy’s wonderful acts of kindness toward Michael Oher. However, more importantly, we saw it in the extraordinary courage that Michael Oher demonstrated in accepting the Tuohys’ generosity not as a handout, or as his saviors, but as a way through which he could improve his own life.”
Johnson and Kosove’s lengthy statement said that “Michael’s academic accomplishments and athletic achievements demonstrate this,” as well.
“His raising of his own children now, who shall know a life of possibility the likes of which Michael never knew as a child, is the ultimate testament to Michael’s own strength and courage,” the production company added. “In both of those regards,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.”
Oher has supported the film for shining a light on the foster care system, but disagrees with his portrayal, particularly how it show him as a struggling student. The Super Bowl champion talked about that dichotomy in his new book, When Your Back's Against the Wall: Fame, Football, and Lessons Learned through a Lifetime of Adversity.
“While the movie did a great job of raising awareness about teens in foster care who might succeed if given a loving family and a chance, it did not do a good job of accurately painting my life,” he wrote.
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