"The Secret," a motivational movie and book based on the "Law of Attraction," has spawned a worldwide phenomenon of DVD and book sales. Now, "The Secret" has prompted a lawsuit from the film's co-creator, Drew Heriot, who says he was denied profits from sales and is entitled to compensation.
Attorneys for Mr. Heriot, who co-authored the screenplay and directed "The Secret" movie, filed the federal lawsuit last week in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Illinois/Eastern Division.
"To all who have been inspired by 'The Secret,' please know that I am not suing the universal principles of 'The Secret'" says Mr. Heriot. "Rather, I am suing the corporate principals behind 'The Secret,' who promised at the outset that profits would be shared, and who have not kept faith with 'The Secret's' tenets of gratitude and integrity."
The lawsuit alleges that Rhonda Byrne, executive producer of "The Secret," and Robert E. Rainone Jr., a Chicago businessman, conspired to deny Mr. Heriot's rights to co-ownership and profits from the movie and related works through a maze of U.S. and foreign-based companies. It is estimated that the combined gross revenue from DVD and book sales of "The Secret" currently exceeds $300 million.
"Although Rhonda Byrne has repeatedly claimed to be the sole creator of 'The Secret' and associated works, we have evidence that she and Drew Heriot collaborated and shared source materials to produce the original film and book," says Mr. Heriot's attorney Mark Werbner of the Dallas-based trial firm Sayles Werbner. "'The Secret' franchise would never have existed if it weren't for Drew, and all he's asking is to be compensated for his work and creative contributions."
Originally released in March of 2006 for DVD and online sales, "The Secret" uses a documentary format of interviews and dramatized sequences to present what is called the "Law of Attraction." Embraced by many self-help experts and the subject of extensive media coverage, the film teaches that thoughts and feelings attract real events into individuals' lives, creating a basis for a higher sense of personal and spiritual fulfillment.
"As Director, Drew gave 'The Secret' its distinctive approach and style. He created the structure and order for the film, conducted the vast majority of those interviews, worked for months on the screenplay, directed the most important dramatic scenes and supervised the editing and post production," says Mr. Werbner. "The book is essentially a transcript of the movie. Drew's pivotal role and ownership rights in these materials should be upheld, and we look forward to our day in court."
The lawsuit seeks a declaration that, as co-author and copyright holder, Mr. Heriot has a right to a full accounting of proceeds from all creative forms of "The Secret," as well as a percentage of those profits. The lawsuit also seeks financial compensation to Mr. Heriot for copyright infringement and unjust enrichment on the part of Ms. Byrne and other defendants.