- The Blind Side producers defend the movie, refuting claims made by Michael Oher about the film’s accuracy and his adoption story.
- The producers dismiss the notion that the Tuohys profited greatly from the film, stating that the contracts did not include significant payouts upon its success.
- Despite controversy, the producers stand by the authenticity of The Blind Side, highlighting the acts of kindness portrayed in the film and the real-life achievements of Michael Oher.
The Blind Side producers defend the divisive $309 million movie in the face of recent controversy concerning Michael Oher and his family. The Blind Side has been under fire recently as its real-life inspiration, Michael Oher, made claims against the movie’s accuracy. Contrary to what the biopic depicts, Oher counters that his adoption story was a lie and that his supposed adoptive family, the Tuohys, deceived him into signing a conservatorship agreement that would allow them to make business deals in his name. As a result, Oher filed a 14-page petition to end his conservatorship to the Shelby County, Tennessee court.
Amid this controversy, The Blind Side producers Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove defend their Sandra Bullock-led movie. According to Deadline, the producers claimed that there have been “many mischaracterizations” surrounding The Blind Side. They dismissed the claims that the Tuohys profited millions while Oher got nothing, saying the film’s contracts “did not include significant payouts in the event of the film’s success.” Read the full statement below:
As the Co-Founders and Co-CEOs of Alcon Entertainment, the company that financed THE BLIND SIDE, as well as being two of the movie’s producers, we feel it is now important for us to respond to some recent media reports, which include many mischaracterizations and uninformed opinions. The impetus for these stories has been a lawsuit by Michael Oher, which seems to have given critics and journalists alike a justification to unfairly pick apart the movie fourteen years later – some going so far as to call it “fake” or a “lie.”
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. 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 two of us are the longest-running interracial business partnership in the history of the film industry. We have led not through publicity or pontification, but rather through the quiet power of example.
In the story of THE BLIND SIDE we saw the better angels of human nature. 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. Michael’s academic accomplishments and athletic achievements demonstrate this. 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. 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. 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.
We also want to speak to the business side of the equation, which it seems, in part, is where some of the current antipathy in the press toward the film is sourced. The film rights to Michael Lewis’s book, and the associated rights contracts were negotiated by Twentieth Century Fox and inherited by Alcon when the film was put in turnaround. It is important to note that in 2006, the nature of life rights deals for books, documentaries and film, as well as the limitations of what college athletes were able to do and maintain eligibility, were very different than they are today. Comparing them to today’s marketplace for those rights is akin to comparing a basketball Hall of Famer’s deal from 25 years ago to the nine-figure deals that are prevalent in today’s NBA. 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.
As a result, the notion that the Tuohys were paid millions of dollars by Alcon to the detriment of Michael Oher is false. In fact, 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. In addition to these contractual payments, Alcon made a charitable contribution to the Tuohy family foundation. We offered to donate an equal amount to a charity of Mr. Oher’s choosing, which he declined.
In November, it will be 14 years since THE BLIND SIDE was released by our distribution partner, Warner Bros. Looking back, the two of us passionately believed that THE BLIND SIDE was a story that should be told. John Lee Hancock had done a brilliant job adapting Michael Lewis’ book and we knew John Lee would direct a thoughtful and uplifting film. Furthermore, we believed that the amazing Sandra Bullock‘s work as a dramatic actress was underappreciated, and we thought Quentin Aaron’s screen test was a revelation. Goodness knows, the two of us are hardly correct all the time, but we sure were right about our decision to make this film. The best human characteristics displayed in THE BLIND SIDE might be easy to dismiss in the bizarro world of elitist film critique and social media cynicism. However, in the real world, they form the basis of a healthy society and they ought to be celebrated. We are as proud of the film today as we were when our amazing collaborators made the movie 14 years ago. We hope our fellow filmmakers all over the world will continue to look for uplifting stories to tell, and have the freedom and empowerment to have their voices heard.
Why Defending The Blind Side Is Complicated
Johnson and Kosove’s recent statement makes it harder to determine who is telling the truth in The Blind Side dispute. They are not the first creatives to defend The Blind Side and its production process. Shortly after the news of Oher’s petition broke, star Quinton Aaron came to The Blind Side and star Sandra Bullock’s defenses. Among praising the movie and its star, Aaron claimed that he never got the chance to meet Oher while working on the biopic, whereas the Tuohys visited the set multiple times.
To defend The Blind Side so fervently, as Aaron, Kosovo, and Johnson have done, is quite contentious in and of itself. Even before the most recent controversy, The Blind Side has been long criticized for its promotion of a “white savior” narrative wherein a White family, the Tuohys, is portrayed as this great hero in the life of a young Black man, Oher. With this in mind, having the people in power in the film continuously speaking out against the subject’s claims of abuse of power does not necessarily present good optics for The Blind Side crew.
Nevertheless, three major participants in the movie – Aaron, Kosovo, and Johnson – have come out with statements supporting another perspective on The Blind Side controversy. Despite how their defense makes them look, their comments complicate the narrative of The Blind Side controversy. As Oher’s petition is considered in court, it will be fascinating to see how it plays out.