Tolkien family climbs into the ring

JRR Tolkien's heirs are threatening to block production of the forthcoming Hobbit film...

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010
They claim they’ve not received their rightful piece of the action from the smash Lord of the Rings series. But you can’t accuse them of chucking their Frodo action figures out of the pram over nothing. To date, the Lord of the Rings films, DVDs and merchandise have brought in $6bn worldwide.

Meanwhile, the furry-footed inheritors have been fobbed off with a mere £32k. Talk about tight. The author’s children, Christopher and Priscilla, are now seeking more than $150m in compensatory damages from New Line Cinema, as well as punitive damages, and permission from the court to terminate any further rights to the Tolkien works, including The Hobbit.

According to the complaint from The Tolkien Trust, the trustees signed a contract with United Artists in 1969 for the film rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, with New Line inheriting the rights to make the films in 1998. The trustees claim they are entitled to a 7.5% share of the gross receipts.

MT suspects some classic Hollywood accounting going on here. It's the kind of financial wizardry that would leave even Gandalf scratching his beard.

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