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!
List of Ping Lists
Does seem to be a recurrent theme, doesn’t it?
The only thing in this world more mythical than hobbits are residuals in Hollywood.
Many years ago I was a Hollywood entertainment attorney. Every nasty rumor you have ever heard about the ethics of producers and studios is true. It is the most dishonest bunch I have ever encountered.
If the contract was for payment to be made based on profit, we all know that they would never see a dime. However, the contract appears to be based on the "gross." Now if New Line prove they had no "gross" that would indeed be an accounting miracle. I hope this goes to a jury and the jury slams New Line.
Wow! I thought I was the only one who knew about lustful elf-maidens and roller-skating dragons!
The water was nowhere more than a few feet deep, and the boggies had little difficulty making their way across. "This is indeed a queer river," said Bromosel, as the water lapped at his thighs.
The movies were pretty good, though I was disappointed that they cut out Tom Bombadil. They did stay relatively true to the tales though, and kept a good sense of right/wrong and good/evil.
Huh—I thought Tolkein sold the rights to LOTR many years ago for a pittance, claiming it was “unfilmable”—I didn’t know there was anything contracted for a share of gross receipts.
Won’t help them in this case - the agreement was for a percentage of gross receipts, not gross or net profit...:) Smart of the Tolkien trust!
In his hand he carried an ancient and trusty weapon, called by the elves a Browning semi-automatic.
New Line Cinema fights to the death on this one.
No... That's diffrnt I think.
The Hobbit movie was hung up on a dispute between PJ and New Line. Which has apparently been resolved.
Dagnabit! Where is my copy????
Grundig blaupunkt luger frug
Watusi snarf wazoo
Nixon Dirsken nasahist
Vas ist? Ver is der handsome Farahslaxer?
Yeah, Arwen saved Frodo, not Glorfindel. While I enjoyed the movies quite a bit, I was annoyed by a number of things such as Arwen's "you want him, come and claim him". I've read the trilogy 5-6 times in the past 30 years or so and I have to roll my eyes at that one. Glorfindel sets Frodo on his horse and sends him across the ford of Bruinen thereafter invoking Elrond's invokation to have the ford wash the riders away. In the movie...Arwen does it and rides across with him.
Bombadil would be extremely difficult to adapt to the screen since he's essentially insane. An immortal with unlimited powers, as he was before and he will be after. He makes Treebeard seem like a hatchling. I can't imagine how you could do Tom without going way into some weird Monty Python type of world where you find a refuge in the middle of war where people feel that basket weaving is the most important task of the day, everything else being useless dreck.
Boggies are an unattractive by annoying people whose numbers have decreased rather precipitously since the bottom fell out of the fairy-tale market. Slow and sullen, and yet dull, they prefer to lead simple lives of pastoral squalor.
Oh you bet! A royalty of 7.5% on gross receipts of $6 BILLION would be a $450 million dollar payout... You can bet that New Line will push themselves to bankruptcy over this one!
In their midst was a towering dark shadow too terrible to describe. In its hand it held a huge black globe and on its chest was written in cruel runes, “Villanova.”
“Aiyee,” shouted Legolam, “A ballhog!”
True, he was pretty loopy. I loved his portrayal in "Bored of the Rings" as Tim Benzedrine and his wife Hashberry. Strobe candles, indeed!
When they get around to doing The Hobbit, I want to see what they do with Beorn.
“Crud!” a narc screamed. “It’s her nibs!”
since when to studios pay royalties? is this a new thing?
Hopefully the Tolkien estate has it in writing that royalties were to be paid on GROSS profits (or some such).
I read some time ago that the author of the Silence of the Lambs got zilch because the contract stipulated it would pay only if there was a net profit... wa-la no net profit so the author got nada (or relatively little).
Hollywood = sleaze-ville.
Yeah, Tom Bombadil was a neat character. I also didn’t like how they altered some characters and scenarios, especially Faramir. For this reason, “The Fellowship of the Ring,” in my opinion, (especially in its Extended Edition), was the best adaptation of the source material.
Beorn is doable. He's just a "golden compass" black bear that is sometimes man, sometimes bear. The morphing part shouldn't be an issue.
In the for what it's worth category, I play Lord of the Rings online...besides the fact that I run into the main characters on occasion, one of the most fun moments was very early on after release and my RL wife an me were exploring. We found the spot where Bilbo got the trolls "stoned". It was very satisfying on a number of levels. The game is quite true to the books, I've enjoyed playing it.
Forth from the gate burst a hundred thousand rabid narcs swinging bicycle chains and tire irons, followed by drooling divisions of pop-eyed changelings, deranged zombies, and distempered werewolves. At their shoulders marched eight score heavily armored griffins, three thousand goose-stepping mummies, and a column of abominable snowmen on motorized bobsleds; at their flanks tramped six companies of slavering ghouls, eighty parched vampires in white tie, and the Phantom of the Opera. Above them the sky was blackened by the dark shapes of vicious pelicans, houseflies the size of two-car garages, and Rodan the Flying Monster. Through the portals streamed more foes of various forms and descriptions, including a six-legged diplodocus, the Loch Ness Monster, King Kong, Godzilla, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Beast with 1,000,000 Eyes, the Brain from Planet Arous, three different subphyla of giant insects, the Thing, It, She, Them, and the Blob. The great tumult of their charge could have waked the dead, were they not already bringing up the rear.
People involved in the entertainment industry are dishonest.
His intelligent animals would present the most difficult part I think. As I recall he had a house full of animal servants.
Tim, now a rather handsome six-foot carrot, laughed loudly and changed into a coiled parking meter. Frito, dizzy as a great wave of oatmeal flowed through his brain, grew heedless of the puddle of drool collecting in his lap. There was a noiseless explosion between his ears and he watched with terror as the room began stretching and pulsating like Silly Putty in heat. Fritos ears began to grow and his arms changed into badminton rackets. The floor developed holes out of which poured fanged peanut brittle. A score of polka-dotted cockroaches danced a buck and wing on his stomach. A Swiss cheese waltzed him twice around the room, and his nose fell off. Frito opened his mouth to speak and a flock of flying earthworms escaped. His gall bladder sang an aria and did a little tap dance on his appendix. He began to lose consciousness, but before it ebbed completely, he heard a six-foot waffle iron giggle, If yoo dig it now, jes wade till th rush hits you!