Lee Daniels Reportedly Paid Damon Dash $1.7 Million in Richard Pryor Biopic Settlement

The project has been in development hell since 2013.

Lee Daniels and Dame Dash

Image via Getty/Michael Loccisano

Lee Daniels and Dame Dash

In 2018, Empire creator and director Lee Daniels and Damon Dash reached an agreement over a lawsuit pertaining to a proposed Richard Pryor biopic. The long-gestating project has been in development hell since around 2013, and Daniels was first attached as director in 2014. Dash accused the director of breaching their contract over the biopic, which Dash was scheduled to work on as well, and sued him last year for $5 million.

The two reached a settlement last year, but at the time it wasn't clear what the details of the agreement they came to was. In court documents acquired by The Blast, it has been revealed that Daniels reportedly paid Dash $1,782,500 through installments from Nov. 2018 to Jan. 2021. Dash also agreed to give up his co-executive producer credit if the Pryor film ever goes ahead, and as a result he will no longer receive any royalties, either.

Dash accused Daniels of stringing him along on the project, which at one point had Mike Epps attached to star and Oprah Winfrey involved as a producer. The last significant update given on the movie came in 2014, with the Weinstein Company involved in the production. Due to quite obvious reasons related to Harvey Weinstein, the future of the Pryor biopic remains uncertain.

In an Instagram post last year, Dash accused Daniels of borrowing $2 million. He shared a video of the two of them arguing, in which the director explained that he would repay him. "He promised I get my money back in months... then he makes Precious and goes missing so he doesn't have to pay me," Dash wrote at the time. It's unclear if that unspecified $2 million loan had anything to do with the potential Pryor movie. 

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