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News: New Lawsuit could put The Hobbit at Risk

jrr_tolkien_hobbit_alan_lee004.jpgYesterday: “J.R.R. Tolkien’s estate — a British charity called the Tolkien Trust — filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against New Line seeking a court order terminating any rights the studio has to any of the author’s works, including ‘Hobbit.’ The Tolkien Trust and the author’s original publisher, HarperCollins, claim that New Line has committed ‘accounting chicanery’ by, among other things, inflating the cost of each film in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy by more than $100 million and refusing to allow an audit of the second and third films in the ‘Rings’ series. The plaintiffs allege that New Line and Peter Jackson’s Katja Motion Picture Group owe them at least $150 million in gross profits from the billion-dollar ‘Rings’ trilogy, which has grossed $6 billion worldwide, a figure that encompasses both boxoffice and DVD sales, according to the complaint.” I don’t know about you but I am getting tried of the New Line, The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit carnival ride. Everybody has had their hands out since The Lord of the Rings turned into a billion dollar gold mine. All of the issues surrounding who-gets-what should have been settled with signed and notarized contracts before the cameras rolled on The Fellowship of the Ring (even though the trilogy was filmed simultaneously). If this new matter is not settled quickly, The Tolkien Trust is bound to file an injunction against New Line from filming any other Tolkien properties and pre-production on The Hobbit might grid to a halt again. This is all great news for Saul Zaentz, who acquired the film rights to the “’Lord of the Rings’ novels, as well as ‘The Hobbit,’ in 1976 from United Artists. In 1997, Zaentz entered into a license agreement with Miramax to produce and distribute a ‘Rings’ trilogy. Under the agreement, Zaentz would receive gross profit participation and the right to audit Miramax’s books. Miramax assigned its rights under the agreement to New Line in 1998, and the terms of the license agreement with Zaentz remained the same.” I read some time ago that if cameras are not rolling on The Hobbit by 2009, New Line’s contract with Zaentz to film The Hobbit or any The Lord of the Rings property will expire. By then, Peter Jackson might be free to direct and Zaentz has already indicated that he wants Jackson to direct The Hobbit. All Zaentz would have to do is enter into a new contract with a different film company (or possibly New Line again) to film The Hobbit and MGM, which owns the distribution rights to the films, would release it.

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About the author

Rollo Tomasi

A Political Science and MBA grad who started FilmBook during an eCommerce B-School course in 2008. Cinema and TV addict. Former writer at Empire Movies, Blogcritics, and Alternative Film Guide. In addition to writing for FilmBook, he also edits the copy published on the website, manages its writing staff, manages the back-end operations, site finances, its social network accounts, and works with publicists, actors, and companies on press coverage and promotions. He has also created and Trending

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