Oringially published on JRR Tolkien Examiner on 7/17/09.
It has been confirmed that the suit will go before a jury in October, and may impact plans by New Line and Time Warner to shoot a two-part adaptation of The Hobbit, now in pre-production in New Zealand.
Tolkien sold the film rights to his novels in 1969, under a deal that promised him 7.5% of receipts. The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, released in 2001, 2002 and 2003, has generated an incredible $6 billion-with-a-“b” — and Tolkien’s heirs claim they have not received a shilling.
Tolkien’s family and the charitable Tolkien Trust seek more than $220 million in compensation. They also want the option to terminate further rights to Tolkien’s work.
HarperCollins Publishers, which owns the publishing rights to Tolkien’s work, is also a plaintiff in the suit.
Film producer Saul Zaentz, who purchased the movie rights from Tolkien, later sold those rights to New Line. United Artists also claimed distribution rights; its corporate owner, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, is working with New Line and TIme Warner on the Hobbit films.