Michael Oher, retired NFL player and inspiration behind ‘The Blind Side,’ has accused the Tuohy family of not sharing the film’s box office profits, causing a backlash
The producers behind 2009’s The Blind Side are clarifying details about their film in the wake of the “familial ups and downs” of the real-life people it depicts.
Retired NFL player Michael Oher, whose story inspired the film, alleged in an Aug. 14 legal petition that Leigh Anne Tuohy and Sean Tuohy lied about adopting him, manipulated him at 18 into naming them his conservators, and did not share in the estimated “millions of dollars” in box office profits the Tuohy family “collectively received” from the Sandra Bullock film, leading to an outcry on social media.
Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove, co-founders and co-CEOs of Alcon Entertainment and producers of The Blind Side, sent a detailed statement to PEOPLE on Thursday addressing the backlash to Oher’s legal filing that caused critics, they said, “to unfairly pick apart the movie 14 years later — some going so far as to call it ‘fake’ or a ‘lie.’ "
“The Blind Side 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,” Johnson and Kosove’s statement said. “We are as proud of the film today as we were when our amazing collaborators made the movie 14 years ago.”
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The film, which earned over $300 million at the box office and has continued to generate residuals since its 2009 release from distributor Warner Bros., stars Quinton Aaron as the teenaged Oher, taken in by the Tuohy family after an impoverished childhood spent in and out of foster homes. It was adapted from Michael Lewis’ book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by writer-director John Lee Hancock. In 2010, Bullock won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance as Leigh Anne Tuohy, while the film was nominated for Best Picture.
Now a father of four, Oher, 37, graduated from the University of Mississippi, was drafted in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens, and became a Super Bowl champion in 2013. In subsequent years, he has voiced displeasure at the portrayal of his intelligence in the hit film.
In his memoir published this month, When Your Back's Against the Wall: Fame, Football and Lessons Learned Through a Lifetime of Adversity, he wrote that "there were so many good things that came out of The Blind Side." However, he added, "The experience surrounding the story has also been a large source of some of my deepest hurt and pain over the past fourteen years.”
In their statement, Johnson and Kosove clarified the collective payments earned by the Tuohys and Oher and addressed the “many mischaracterizations and uninformed opinions” that have emerged over the portrayal of Oher’s story in their film.
“In the story of The Blind Side we saw the better angels of human nature,” they said. “We saw it in the extraordinary courage that Michael Oher demonstrated in accepting the Tuohys’ generosity not as a handout, or as his saviors, but as a way through which he could improve his own life."
The producers continued: “Michael’s academic accomplishments and athletic achievements demonstrate this. His raising of his own children now, who shall know a life of possibility the likes of which Michael never knew as a child, is the ultimate testament to Michael’s own strength and courage.”
“The Blind Side was a film that no major studio would make, back when Alcon financed the film in 2009. The prevailing ‘wisdom’ was that a football movie starring a woman would not appeal to football fans, it had too much football to appeal to families, and that movies starring Black actors don’t work overseas. Our opinion was that it would appeal to everyone, and, in 2009, when this country, and the world more broadly, was more hopeful and less divided — it did.”
“Not all of the story is gonna be a hundred percent [true] anyway,” the 39-year-old Blind Side star said. "We're in the business of entertaining, and sometimes, there's certain liberties that are taken from either the writer or producer or the creator[’s] standpoint to make the film [appealing] to a certain audience… in doing so, they successfully put out something that has motivated an entire generation of people to do good."
"Even though it's unfortunate how today's current events are playing out between the family and Michael, I still feel like the movie itself has served a greater purpose than anyone could have hoped for," Aaron added.
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