Skip to comments.Tolkien Estate Sues New Line Cinema (Failure to Pay Royalties Apparently)
Posted on 02/11/2008 5:48:45 PM PST by Pyro7480
LOS ANGELES - The estate of "Lord of the Rings" creator J.R.R. Tolkien is suing the film studio that released the trilogy based on his books, claiming the company hasn't paid it a penny from the estimated $6 billion the films have grossed worldwide.
The suit, filed Monday, claims New Line was required to pay 7.5 percent of gross receipts to Tolkien's estate and other plaintiffs, who contend they only received an upfront payment of $62,500 for the three movies before production began.
The writer's estate, a British charity dubbed The Tolkien Trust, and original "Lord of the Rings" publisher HarperCollins filed the lawsuit against New Line Cinema in Los Angeles Superior Court. If successful, it could block the long-awaited prequel to the films.
Robert Pini, a spokesman for Time Warner Inc.'s New Line, declined to comment.
The films 2001's "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring," 2002's "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers," and 2003's "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" have reaped nearly $6 billion combined worldwide, according to the complaint.
The estimate includes everything from box office receipts to revenue from sales of DVDs and other products.
The plaintiffs seek more than $150 million in compensatory damages, unspecified punitive damages and 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."
Such an order would scuttle plans by New Line to make a two-film prequel based on "The Hobbit." "Rings" trilogy director Peter Jackson has already signed on to serve as executive producer on the project, which is tentatively slated to begin production next year, with releases planned for 2010 and 2011.
"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, said 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."
Maier also claims the film studio has blocked the Tolkien estate and the other plaintiffs from auditing the receipts of the last two films.
The lawsuit claims J.R.R. Tolkien established a trust through which he signed a film deal in 1969 with United Artists. After Tolkien's death, his heirs created the charity in the author's name.
Meanwhile, the original agreement terms were picked up by Hollywood producer Saul Zaentz, who produced an animated film in 1978 based on the "Rings" books, and eventually licensed the rights to make live-action films to New Line.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs said they have spent the years since the movies hit theaters trying to negotiate a settlement with New Line.
Other disputes over the film's earnings have surfaced in recent years.
In 2004, Zaentz sued New Line, claiming the studio cheated him out of $20 million in royalties from the film trilogy, which he optioned to New Line for a percentage of the movies' profits.
He and the film studio reached an out-of-court settlement a year later.
Jackson's production company also tangled with New Line in 2005 over profits from the films. A lawsuit was settled last year.
Between the above and the subject of the article, it seems like New Line has a problem with paying up on what it rightly owes people.
New Line is pretty scummy for doing this.
"Nassty. trickssy hobbitsesss!"
This apparently happens a lot. The authors of books and writers are at the very bottom of the totem pole. Which is another example of how backwards hollywood is...the very people who CREATE the thing are least valued.
I recall Winston Groom had to sue over Forrest Gump because the studio tried to claim they didn’t make a profit. If memory serves, his cut came after all “expenses”. I don’t recall the outcome of the suit, but to claim that movie didn’t make money is simply laughable.
Tolkein estate, meet Hollywood accounting.
It would seem so. I was pleased that PJ was able to settle his differences, they seemed irreconcilable for a while there. I hope this too, gets taken care of so we can look forward to a Hobbit movie.
That’s some pretty serious coin. New Line should probably pay up before some “nassssty orcssesss” come collecting.
To think that Hollywood is full of socialist, liberal, communist leaning wannabes... Oddly, it doesn’t strike me as funny that they’d impose a “tax” on the original content, depriving authors and writers of a share of the same.
The MPAA are such fine, upstanding people, so concerned about respecting copyright...
So we’re back to no “The Hobbit” movie again?
Aren't these the same people that will sue a 12 year old for downloading a movie?
Ping Lord of the rings fans
Anyone wishing to be added to or removed from the Ring-Ping list, please don't hesitate to let me know.
Also I should like to know about risks, out-of-pocket expenses, time required and renumeration, and so forth’ (Bilbo) - by which he meant: ‘What am I going to get out of it? and am I going to come back alive?’ “
Time for New Line to re-jigger the books so that they don’t show a profit.
The thing that would truly put the fear of God into them would be to give the property rights to the films to the plaintiff.
"Tard" refers to the ping list members and not to the subject of the thread!
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Does seem to be a recurrent theme, doesn’t it?
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