Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

This blog is devoted to a variety of topics including politics, current events, legal issues, and we even take the time to have some occasional fun. After all, blogging is about having a little fun, right?

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Hobbit hits a snag

When I read that The Hobbit was finally given a green light to begin production, I was giddy. The Lord of the rings Trilogy was a magnificent piece of filmdom that many agreed would be the successor to the Star Wars legacy. Today, however, news has been released that unless the Tolkien heirs are paid the money they're owed, they'll kill the project:

The heirs to J. R. R. Tolkien are threatening to block the much-awaited film of The Hobbit over claims that they have not received a share of the $6 billion that the films and DVDs of The Lord of the Rings and related products have taken worldwide.

The two-film prequel to the trilogy faces this obstacle only weeks after New Line Cinema came close to losing the involvement of Peter Jackson, who directed The Lord of the Rings.

Tolkien’s children, Christopher Reuel Tolkien and Priscilla Mary Anne Reuel Tolkien, on behalf of The Tolkien Trust, are involved in the legal action that seeks more than $150 million (£77 million) in compensatory damages from New Line, as well as punitive damages, and a declaration from the court that the plaintiffs have a right to terminate any further rights to the Tolkien works, including The Hobbit.

The lawsuit against New Line Cinema was filed at Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday by The Tolkien Trust and the publisher of Tolkien’s books, HarperCollins, which is owned by News Corporation, parent company of The Times. The move comes only weeks after Jackson and Bob Shaye, chief executive of New Line, buried the hatchet after more than a year of public acrimony.

Jackson has agreed to become executive producer of The Hobbit and Guillermo Del Toro, the director of Pan’s Labyrinth, is expected to direct the films.

Jackson had sued over the amount he was paid for The Fellowship of the Ring, the first episode of the trilogy.

According to the complaint from The Tolkien Trust, 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 claim they are entitled to a 7.5 per cent share of the gross receipts. New Line inherited the rights to make the films in 1998.

The trustees’ British lawyer, Steven Maier, said: “The Tolkien trustees do not file lawsuits lightly, and have tried unsuccessfully to resolve their claims out of court. But New Line has left them no option at all. New Line has not paid the plaintiffs one penny of its contractual share of gross receipts despite the billions of dollars of gross revenue generated by these wildly successful motion pictures.”

Sources close to The Tolkien Trust said that auditors were appointed in 2004 to investigate accounting statements sent to the trust by New Line. Mr Maier, who refused to comment in detail on the auditors’ findings, said talks with New Line had being going on for two years.

Bonnie Eskenazi, the trustees’ US counsel who filed the complaint, said: “New Line has brought new meaning to the phrase ‘creative accounting’. I cannot imagine how on earth New Line will argue to a jury that these films could gross literally billions of dollars and yet the creator’s heirs, who are entitled to a share of gross receipts, don’t get a penny.” New Line refused to comment on the case.

I despise penny-pinching Hollywood studios that think they can get away with crap like this. New Line owes the Tolkien Trust a lot of money. (The movies grossed $2,916,544,743 worldwide.) Their agreement was for 7.5% of the receipts and other materials related to the release of the movies. even if one is to only give them their due for the movies alone, they should be getting close to $220 million. They're willing to settle for a cool $150 million. That seems a rather small price to pay -- and it's rightly due to them -- so that New Line can continue to keep the Tolkien franchise alive with the making of the Hobbit, and one other movie tentatively scheduled for release in 2011.

Publius II


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