Tolkien Heirs Sue New Line Over Millions From ‘Rings’


    February 12, 2008
    Tolkien Heirs Sue New Line Over Millions From ‘Rings’

    Following in the footsteps of Peter Jackson, the director of the Oscar-winning “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, heirs to J. R. R. Tolkien, the author of the books on which the films are based, are suing New Line Cinema for failing to pay them at least $150 million, which they say they are owed as part of the movies’ gross receipts.
    In a complaint filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, trustees of the Tolkien Trust, a British charity, joined trustees of a private family trust of Tolkien heirs and the British arm of HarperCollins Publishers in suing New Line Cinema for breach of contract.
    Charging “unabashed and insatiable greed,” the plaintiffs said in the complaint that New Line, which produced and distributed the “Lord of the Rings” movies, had failed to pay anything despite a nearly 40-year-old contract that entitles the trusts and the publishers to 7.5 percent of the films’ gross revenues, less certain costs.
    According to the complaint, the three movies generated about $6 billion in box office receipts and ancillary revenues from DVD sales, cable television licensing fees and other sales, although Steven Maier, the British-based lawyer for the trustees, said they had not been allowed to audit the receipts from the second and third films.
    In the complaint, the plaintiffs argue that New Line has “clearly engaged in the infamous practice of creative ‘Hollywood accounting,’ ” by excluding certain revenue from calculations and racking up costs that have so far prevented the studio from paying out a single dime.
    “I think that it’s going to be extremely interesting to see how New Line is going to explain to a jury that these films grossed $6 billion and yet by their calculations the creators’ heirs are not going to get even a single penny,” said Bonnie Eskenazi, the United States lawyer for the trustees.
    A spokesman for New Line declined to comment.
    According to the complaint, the trustees and a predecessor to HarperCollins signed a contract with United Artists in 1969 for the film rights to “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. The trustees and the publisher were entitled to a 7.5 percent share of the gross receipts. New Line eventually inherited the rights to make the movies in 1998.
    Mr. Jackson sued New Line in 2005 and settled last year, paving the way for New Line, owned by Time Warner, to produce two movies based on “The Hobbit,” with Mr. Jackson serving as the executive producer.
    In the current lawsuit the plaintiffs are also seeking unspecified punitive damages and are asking the court to terminate New Line’s rights to make any subsequent films based on “The Hobbit” or “The Lord of the Rings.”
  2. Weird, last night there was one post and then today there were two!
  3. New Line better get their act together!
  4. It would be nice if everyone just played by the rules and act fairly.
  5. double post?
  6. That's a sad news..I like peter jackson and I hope he is the director of the Hobbit...
  7. I'm kind of surprised this hasn't come up earlier. Those movies have been out for years.

    Seems as though they ought to get some money, even if it's not as much as they asking. On the other hand, it kind of bugs me when descendants of famous people expect to get a free ride, making millions living off the talent of their dead grandfather.
  8. ^^^ Ita
  9. glad im not the only one that thought about that:confused1:
  10. Yes, but they control the estate, I can think of none better than the family to make a profit off of it when people can make a movie and make millions themselves! I'm sure Tolkien himself would have been happy to know that money was going to his son, or whomever in his family. Or else he could have left the estate to no one! Makes total sense to me. Plus Christopher (he is the one that controls it right?) who was read these stories and helped his dad sort through things knows the best way to portray and the meaning behind things. Alsoooo and this is just my opinion but would it be any different if J.R.R. was still living, and his sons, wife, daughters, whoever were benefitting from his millions (that he would have made off the movies) then?