Tolkien Estate Sues New Line for $150M, Imperiling 'Hobbit' Future

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Tolkien Estate Sues New Line for $150M, Imperiling 'Hobbit' Future

Mon Feb 11, 2008 @ 02:33PM PST

Posted by Eriq Gardner

Hobbit_cover "Lord of the Rings" was about a great, magical ring that brought power, wealth, and curses to all those who held it. Life is starting to imitate art.

Today, the estate of "Rings" author J.R.R. Tolkien and original publisher HarperCollins  filed suit against New Line, the studio that brought the book series to screen, claiming New Line  failed to pay 7.5 percent of gross receipts from the films, which netted an estimated $6 billion combined worldwide.

The plaintiffs want more than $150 million in damages as well as a court order giving the Tolkien estate the right to terminate any rights New Line may have to make films based on other works by the author, including "The Hobbit." That film, you'll recall, was green-lighted after New Line settled its long-running accounting dispute with director Peter Jackson. Original rights holder Saul Zaentz has also expressed displeasure at New Line from time to time.

"The Tolkien trustees do not file lawsuits lightly, and have tried unsuccessfully to resolve their claims out of court," Steven Maier, an attorney for the Tolkien estate based in Britain, told the AP in a statement. "New Line has not paid the plaintiffs even one penny of its contractual share of gross receipts despite the billions of dollars of gross revenue generated by these wildly successful motion pictures."

Bonnie Eskenazi of LA's Greenberg Glusker film is the trustees’ U.S. counsel. She filed the complaint.

New Line hasn't responded to the allegations yet.

 

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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