‘Ozark’ Creator Sued Over Screenplay Credit on Upcoming Liam Neeson Film

'Mark Felt' film premiere
Dan Steinberg/Variety/REX/Shutte

A first-time screenwriter filed a lawsuit Monday against Mark Williams, the co-creator of “Ozark,” claiming Williams wrongfully claimed a writing credit on a forthcoming Liam Neeson film.

Nick May is a career attorney at the Federal Trade Commission and the author of the screenplay of “Blacklight.” Williams, who has produced and directed previous films starring Neeson, optioned the screenplay in November 2019.

The film is about a government operative who uncovers a shadowy conspiracy. Williams is the producer and director, and shooting began earlier this year in Australia.

According to the complaint, Williams shifted the time period of the film and revised some of the dialogue, but the bulk of the original screenplay remains intact in the final shooting script.

However, May states that Williams has taken sole “screenplay by” and “written by” credit for himself, while May only a shared “story by” credit.

“This is thus the common Hollywood tale of established players stealing credit and money from creative newcomers,” the suit states. “However, Plaintiff is not the typical mark. Not only is he the true author of ‘Blacklight,’ but he is also a former civil rights attorney and current consumer protection attorney and is therefore well equipped to understand and enforce his contractual rights.”

May’s contract entitles him to 3% of the net proceeds if he gets “screenplay by” credit. The suit alleges that Williams is seeking to deprive him of his share of the backend profits.

The suit also contends that Williams violated May’s contract, which states that credit will be allocated according to established Writers Guild of America rules.

UPDATE: Williams says via email that no credit determination has been made, and that May is being “overzealous”:

“This is the first I’ve heard of it. Considering I no longer control the rights to the movie or the credit determination, and the movie is still in early post and no credit determination has been made, I believe this may be the case of an overzealous attorney/writer. The writing credits will be arbitrated per the contract, in due course.”