Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lawsuit may threaten Hobbit films
16th July 2009, 12:30 WST

New Zealand film-maker Peter Jackson may have more in common with JRR Tolkien's heirs than he thought - they are also complaining about big studio accounting methods.

Tolkien's family and a British charity they head, the Tolkien Trust, are seeking more than $US220 million ($276.94 million) in compensation for the Lord of the Rings trilogy Jackson made in New Zealand.

The Tolkien heirs sold movie rights to the LOTR books 40 years ago for 7.5 per cent of future receipts, but say that three films and $US6 billion ($7.55 billion) later, they have not seen a cent of the proceeds.

Jackson himself threatened to sue the New Line studio in a separate row over royalties from the Lord of the Rings, leading then studio chief Bob Shaye to declare that the New Zealander would "never" make The Hobbit.

That dispute was settled in late 2007 and Jackson and his partner Fran Walsh were named as executive producers for the two Hobbit films now in pre-production.

But the Bloomberg news agency reported that the Tolkien heirs' case against New Line Cinema, a unit of Time Warner, will start in the Los Angeles Superior Court in October, and is expected to probe the studio accounting practices...

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