Thailand Release of ‘Furious 7’ Halted by Tony Jaa Contract Dispute

The release of “Furious 7” has been halted in Thailand, home country of one of the film’s stars — martial arts ace Tony Jaa.

Sahamongkolfilm International, one of Thailand’s leading film groups, obtained a court injunction halting the scheduled release of “F7,” which had been set for April 1.

The injunction names Jaa, Universal Pictures and distributor United International Pictures (Fareast) and alleges that Jaa is in breach of a management contract with Sahamongkol that runs until 2023.

Jaa was star of several movies produced or distributed by Sahamongkol – including “Ong Bak” and “Tom Yum Goong” (aka “The Protector” in North America) – while under a long-term contract with Sahamongkol as his exclusive talent agent.

Sahamongkol is reported to be seeking $49 million (THB1.6 billion) in compensation, a sum it calculates as the sum of previous investments in launching the star, lost future earnings, and 7.5% interest.

Jaa and Sahamonglol have been in dispute for the past two years, with Jaa insisting that the contract had expired, and Sahamongkol insisting that it had been renewed. The contractual dispute became public in 2013 when Jaa refused to do publicity for Sahamongkol’s “Tom Yum Goong 2,” in which he starred. The film flopped badly, taking less than $2 million on its Thai release.

The court has said that it will not examine the case fully until June. Sahamongkol says it is open to negotiations before then. The dispute has a possibility of disrupting two other films set for release this year.

Despite the rupture with Sahamongkol and the simmering dispute, Jaa took a supporting role in Baumgarten Management and Productions’ and SC International’s “Skin Trade”; and “Sha Po Lang 2: A Man Will Rise,” a big-budget Hong Kong action picture also starring Sammo Hung, from Hong Kong’s Bravos Pictures and Sun Entertainment Culture.

“Skin Trade,” which is directed by Thailand’s Ekachai Uekrongtham and features Dolph Lundgren, is set for release in North America by Magnolia Pictures and Magnet Releasing.

“SPL 2” is set for release in Thailand in April.

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