In 2009, “The Blind Side” hit theaters and became an instant classic. The movie, based on the life of former NFL player Michael Oher, tells a heartwarming story of a young man who overcomes adversity to achieve greatness. But behind the feel-good story lies a bitter dispute over the proceeds from the film.
Recently, Oher accused Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, the couple who took him in and helped him reach his potential, of withholding his portion of the profits made from the movie. The Tuohys, for their part, deny the allegations and say that Oher was always aware of the financial arrangements.
So, what’s the truth behind the dispute? According to Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove, co-founders and co-CEOs of Alcon Entertainment, which financed the movie, the Tuohys were paid a fraction of what has been reported in the media. They shared that Alcon paid “$767,000 to the talent agency that represents the Tuohy family and Michael Oher (who, presumably, took commission before passing it through).”
Despite this, Oher filed a petition last month seeking to end a conservatorship, alleging that he signed the conservatorship papers thinking they were adoption papers. In the filing, he also alleged that the Tuohys never actually adopted him and instead became his conservators.
The dispute has sparked a media frenzy, with some outlets calling the movie “fake” or a “lie.” But Johnson and Kosove stand by the film, saying that it 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.
As for the financial arrangements, Johnson and Kosove say that the deal that was made for the Tuohys and 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.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE: Michael Oher, the football player and subject of the film, ‘The Blind Side’, is suing to end the conservatorship issued at the time of his “adoption” by the Tuohys. Oher attests that the Tuohys presented the conservatorship as a way to officially enter their family, and was shocked to realize that he is not a legal member of the Tuohy family, at all.
“Oher discovered this lie to his chagrin and embarrassment in February of 2023, when he learned that the Conservatorship to which he consented on the basis that doing so would make him a member of the Tuohy family, in fact provided him no familial relationship with the Tuohys,” his lawyer said in a statement.
Oher entered the conservatorship in 2004, at 18-years-old. He is now 37-years-old. He states that he was told to call the lawyer who handled the compensation paperwork “Aunt Debbie”.
Sean Tuohy Sr. has claimed that he and his family are willing to end the conservatorship, but Oher is seeking additional compensation relating to the movie made of his life story.
“We’re devastated,” Tuohy Sr. said. “It’s upsetting to think we would make money off any of our children. But we’re going to love Michael at 37 just like we loved him at 16.”
Tuohy Sr. and his son, Sean Tuohy Jr., both say that there is no additional money from the movie to give, and that they only received a payment from the author of the book the movie was based on, Michael Lewis.
“Man, if I had $2 million in my bank account, it would be in my email signature and say, ‘Signed, SJ Tuohy, multi-millionaire,'” said Tuohy Jr. “I get it, why he’s mad. I completely understand. It stinks that it’ll play out on a very public stage.”
“Michael Lewis gave us half of his share,” Tuohy Sr. said. “Everybody in the family got an equal share, including Michael. It was about $14,000, each.”