*UPDATED* Sahamongkol Blocks FURIOUS 7 From Release In Thailand Over Tony Jaa Contract Dispute

Founder and Editor; Toronto, Canada (@AnarchistTodd)
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*UPDATED* Sahamongkol Blocks FURIOUS 7 From Release In Thailand Over Tony Jaa Contract Dispute
[Engines are revving with news that Thailand's Civil Court has struck down the injunction against releasing Furious 7 following an appeal filed by Jaa, Universal and UIP.]

The ongoing drama between Thai star Tony Jaa and Sia Jiang - the head of Thailand's Sahamongkol studio for whom Jaa starred in Ong Bak and Tom Yum Goong - continues with word that Jiang has been granted a court injunction blocking the release of Furious 7 in Thailand pending resolution of an ongoing contract dispute between the Thai studio and the star.

For those needing a primer on the dispute - we first reported on it here with a response from Jaa's management here - what it boils down to is this. When he initially joined Sahamongkol, Jaa signed a highly restrictive 10 year contract with the studio that prevented him from doing any work with anyone else anywhere in the world without the permission and participation of Sahamongkol, permission which they consistently refused to grant anyone. There is some question about whether this sort of contract is even legal in Thailand in the first place - I'm told it's not, but I won't pretend to be a Thai legal expert - but the conflict really spiked when that contract expired. When that initial contract came to and end immediately following production on Tom Yum Goong 2, Jaa moved on to other things and very quickly signed on to star in Furious 7. Meanwhile, Sahamongkol - wanting to keep their biggest star - sent someone by his house with a contract extension for a further ten years which they say was signed, not by Jaa himself but by another family member. Despite Jaa never signing an extension himself the studio holds that this is legally binding and continue to seek to block him from outside work.

And so we come to this: A week prior to the release of Furious 7, Sahamongkol have filed a court injunction to block the release within Thailand requesting damages of 1.6 billion Thai baht - roughly $50 million US dollars. They state damages were calculated based on the cost of hiring Jaa from them and - this is the good bit - "expenses to promote other films that made him famous." So, yes, Sahamongkol want fifty million dollars from Universal Pictures for making Tony Jaa famous.

The injunction has been granted pending discovery and, given the closeness of the release, this effectively means that Furious 7 will likely not release in Thailand at all unless the judge takes a look at the merits of the case and throws it out within the next couple of days.
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fast and furiousfurious 7sahamongkoltony jaaJames WanChris MorganGary Scott ThompsonVin DieselPaul WalkerJason StathamMichelle RodriguezActionCrimeThriller

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YojimboMarch 27, 2015 1:42 PM

Crikey! that contract sounds almost as bad as some the contracts Thai boxers end up signing with their camps.
Talk about shooting yourself in the foot, surely Jaa being seen in Hollywood blockbusters would up his profile and would have benefited any future Sahamongkol productions.

Todd BrownMarch 27, 2015 1:50 PM

I think, really, that the relationship with Sahamongkol soured so badly during Ong Bak 2 that the company knows he'll never work with them again regardless. To me this feels like Jian Siang trying to save face ... he doesn't seem to care about money or future benefits at all (the legal threat was first made right before the release of Tom Yum Goong 2, so all the lead up press was about the studio threatening lawsuits rather than 'our guy just got signed to the biggest action franchise in the world') as long as he can keep saying that he's in the right, has been horribly aggrieved, and is more powerful than Jaa. And Universal, in this case.

ricksomchaiMarch 27, 2015 7:17 PM

They should just throw the case out come on thats like my mom or sister signing a contract for me without consent. That's illegal as hell lol how do they even think they have a case!

MikeMarch 28, 2015 12:46 PM

How does something this apparently ridiculous take so long to sort out?

Todd BrownMarch 28, 2015 6:29 PM

Sahamongkol intentionally waited this long to file the case just to be a pain in the ass with the release of Furious 7. they threatened to do it in the lead up to releasing TYG2, but didn't actually do it until now.

Pasta_BearMarch 28, 2015 7:28 PM


TheAngryInternetMarch 29, 2015 12:45 AM

Sounds like a shakedown attempt, at least in part. Jaa has a $9m Thai-Canadian film coming out next month (Skin Trade) and there's apparently no sign of an injunction against that film or even a request for oneā€”but then Sahamongkol probably thinks they can wring far more money out of Universal than they'll get from the makers of a Dolph Lundgren flick. They also have a major release on April 9th (the last entry in the King Naresuan series) and now they've gotten their biggest competition out of the way.

Patrick GarciaMarch 29, 2015 5:16 AM

Looks they'll just have to wait and watch the screener.

Chayanin TiangpitayagornMarch 30, 2015 11:17 AM

UPDATE FROM BANGKOK: Three lawyers of all defendants (Tony Jaa, Universal Pictures and UIP - the distributor) appealed, and the court revokes its own injunction already (stated that this will breach the others' right.)

In short, the film will release on 1 April (as announced earlier before the case,) but the lawsuit is still going on.

Chayanin TiangpitayagornMarch 30, 2015 11:46 AM

On the contract extension issue, Thai law doesn't prevent this kind of thing to happen. In Tony Jaa's contract said that the extension can be legalized even though Jaa himself didn't sign it, just produce a copy of contract renewal is enough (The law presume that he KNOWS it.) Sahamongkol sent a copy to his hometown, and it became legal when his another family member signed to the post office for receiving a package of document.