|On Monday The Tolkien Estate and Rupert Murdoch's HarperCollins Publishers sued New Line Cinema to claim their long-forgotten gold in Los Angeles Superior Court.
The suit claims that New Line Cinema was required to pay 7.5 percent of gross receipts on The Lord of the Rings blockbuster to the Tolkien Estate and other plaintiffs. They contend that they only received an upfront payment of $62,500 before production began and after that never received a penny. To make things worse the claim also mentions that New Line is refusing to allow an audit of the second and third films in the "Rings" series.
The Tolkien Estate and other 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 that New Line may have to make films based on other works by the author, including the two The Hobbit movies.
Lawsuits in Hollywood are as common as hobbits in Middle Earth and New Line has been suit over profits by so many different parties, for example by Peter Jackson himself and Saul Zaentz, that it shows how enormous financial success can breed unabashed and insatiable greed. Despite the nearly $6 billion in gross revenues, New Line has crafted a fantasy tale of its own, making the stunning assertion that it has not received sufficient money to pay plaintiffs a dime."
"The Tolkien trustees do not file lawsuits lightly and have tried unsuccessfully to resolve their claims out of court. But in this case, New Line has left them no option at all," said Steven Maier, the trustees' U.K.-based lawyer.
New Line refused to say whether the Tolkien Estate's legal action would have an immediate impact on the development of The Hobbit movies. But if successful, the lawsuit has the potential to toss the films into the fires of Mt. Doom.
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