Selena Quintanilla's Family and Netflix Are Being Sued Ahead of the Series Release
The producer of the 1997 biopic 'Selena' claims he owns the rights to Selena's story.
Before Selena: The Series, starring Christian Serratos as the late, great tejano singer Selena Quintanilla, hits Netflix next month, Selena's family will have to deal with a $1 million lawsuit thrown at them by Moctesuma Esparza, the producer of the 1997 Jennifer Lopez-led biopic Selena.
Documents obtained by E! News show that Esparza alleges Selena's father, Abraham Quintanilla, had signed a contract back in 1995 giving Esparza full rights to Selena's life stories. Furthermore, Esparza claims that Abraham and Selena's sister Suzette Quintanilla discussed creating a series with Esparza about Selena's early life several years after the film debuted, but that show never panned out.
The Quintanilla family went on to collaborate with Netflix on Selena: The Series, which chronicles her family life and rise to fame. It's set to drop on the streaming platform December 4th.
However, according to a resurfaced 1995 interview with the L.A. Times, Esparza confirmed that he did not seek the rights to Selena's life story, but rather made a "formal agreement" with the Quintanilla family that let them approve the script while giving Esparza full control over the film's production. Court documents assert that Esparza's agreement with the family was reaffirmed in 1998 after the film's release.
"[Abraham] has the right to tell us he doesn’t like something and wants corrections," Esparza told the Times in 1995. "Our contact with the family has been just really very positive. They have not put any limits on what we’ve been able to pursue."
Now it appears the tables have turned and Esparza is the one attempting to put limitations on Selena's story.
The same article also reported that Abraham was involved in yet another rights-related lawsuit before the 1997 film was even written. A San Antonio music journalist named Ramiro Burr had sued Abraham upon learning that he would co-produce Selena, stating that Abraham had agreed to let Burr ghostwrite Selena's biography which would be the foundation for any related Selena film. This lawsuit was later dropped.
Perhaps the lawsuit involving Esparza will dissolve in the same way Burr's did. Luckily, the Quintanilla family has Netflix on their side and an army of Selena fans eagerly waiting to support this upcoming series when it airs.