The distributor behind Drake's controversial concert film Drake's Homecoming: The Lost Footage is suing the rapper for libel and other charges after he tweeted comments disavowing the movie.
SpectiCast filed the suit in California on Wednesday, alleging libel, intentional interference with prospective economic advantage and interference with performance of contract. The suit comes one day before the film, recorded at Toronto Sound Academy in 2009, appears in 350 theaters nationwide Thursday alongside international screenings.
The suit alleges that the rapper signed a contract to allow the film to be shown and that he would receive 15 percent of the profits. Earlier this week, though, the rapper disavowed the movie, stating, "The Drake Homecoming film is not something OVO or Drake have any part in. I feel it is my responsibility to inform and protect my fans."
That statement, though, constitutes libel, according to SpectiCast. "Drake initiated a campaign to destroy the film's commercial value, issuing false statements via Twitter and other social media outlets that he has no affiliation with the film, giving rise to the libelous and false impression that the film's recording of his 2009 Toronto concert is somehow 'unauthorized,'" SpectiCast wrote in the suit.
A representative for Drake declined to comment on the lawsuit.
The company alleged that the rapper spoke negatively about the film and "attempt[ed] to sabotage" it in order to steer fans towards buying tickets to his annual OVO Fest in August. "Drake's secret motivation for publishing the damaging falsehoods about the film, and trying to destroy its commercial and artistic success, was to drive Drake's fans to purchase tickets to his own 'OVO Fest' event instead of the film, under the false guise of #protectingthefans," the suit claims.
"Drake authorized the filming, he was paid for it, he still has a financial stake in the movie and his current statements to the contrary are completely false," Peter Haviland, an attorney for SpectiCast, said in a statement. "Drake's actions are libelous, malicious and damaging to those who worked hard and honorably to get this movie out."
As an addendum to the suit, SpectiCast attached a purported performance agreement between Drake and concert promoter Serious Entertainment, granting the company "the right to make and own the video and audio recordings of the concert and to exploit them for profit." The company claims that Drake had "granted all rights in the recordings of the Homecoming concert" to Serious and that he had approved the film's trailer and viewed the film "without complaint" last December.
Drake's disapproval of the film, says SpectiCast, was "perfectly timed to inflict maximum damage on ticket sales and maximum damage to SpectiCast's reputation," adding that it presented "direct economic harm."
Earlier this week, Mark Berry, the film's co-executive producer, told Rolling Stone, "It's a money issue, but it's also an issue where Drake lost control of this project a long, long time ago. We resurrected it. We developed the interest and put the partners together. He doesn't have any control over it, so it's a bit of a 'sour grapes' scenario."
Haviland said in a statement that the company is seeking "substantial damages," though the company would not disclose a specific number. "We really have to evaluate the extent of the damages," Haviland tells Rolling Stone, claiming that ticket sales were lower than anticipated and select theaters refused to show the film. A spokesperson for Fathom Events, the company assisting in screening the film, was not immediately available for comment to confirm this claim.
"We're obviously looking for some correction from Drake about the implication that this is an unauthorized release," Haviland says. "We're going to do what we can to ensure distributors of the facts, which was that this was a movie that was approved and that we fully have rights to, and any implications to the contrary is just wrong."