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Watchmen And Hobbit Mired in Legal Cases
Everyone's getting sued today!

12 February 2008  |  Written by Helen O'Hara  |  Source: The Hollywood Reporter, LA Times

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It's a dark day for genre fans, as lawsuits threaten the future of both Watchmen and The Hobbit. Now don't jump out a window just yet - it's in everyone's interest that these films get made. But there might be some speedbumps in the road ahead if the two claims just made stick.

First of all, 20th Century Fox claims that they purchased the rights to make a Watchmen movie back in the 1980s, and that those were never bought out before the Warners project moved into production last year. They're seeking unspecified damages and probably a share of any proceeds, but with the film already well into production, the worst that should happen, from a filmgoer's point of view, would be a slight delay in release.

The more serious threat is the lawsuit launched by the Tolkien Trust (a charitable trust set up by the author), the Tolkien estate and Harper Collins publishers against New Line, claiming that they are owed at least $150 million from The Lord of the Rings trilogy (which made over $6 billion). They claim that a gross profit clause in a 1969 contract entitles them to 7.5% of the gross from the films and "related products", minus certain expenses.

Says their lawyer, "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. New Line has not paid the plaintiffs even one penny of its contractual share of gross receipts despite the billions of dollars of gross revenue generated by these wildly successful motion pictures. To make matters worse, to date New Line has even prevented the plaintiffs from auditing the last two films of the series. The trustees are very aggrieved by New Line's arrogance."

They're seeking $150 million in compensation and, and this is the scary part, "a declaration from the Court that the plaintiffs have a right to terminate any further rights New Line may have to the Tolkien works under the agreements, including The Hobbit, due to the serious and material nature of the breach of the agreements."

The Hobbit has already spent years mired in a legal tangle between New Line and MGM - could this latest lawsuit topple its chances of making it to the screen?


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Your Comments

RE: hobbit rights
L: danbo1138 don't the rights to the hobbit revert back to the tolkien estate in 2009?could this be a stalling tactic by the estate in order to get jackson to direct his version? his is an interesting theory.  I like! Despite having to wait even longer for more Hobbity-goodness, despite the fact that Del Toro could work magic helming the project, I think the film would go down better with everyone's favourite Kiwi with megaphone duties.  I wonder if PJ would want to do so More

Posted by dracovir at 00:24 on 27 February 2008 | Report This Post

RE: The Watchmen one smells like bull......
L: Helen OHara On the Watchmen question, the full story does detail some quite complex to-ings and fro-ings with the rights, which could explain the delay. They may have taken a while to build the case. was going to take a guess at something akin to this.  There is often (if not all the time) some behind-the-scenes happenings that can take years before it makes it into the courts.  Chances are Fox have taken grievance to Warner since they ced the project and it has only now c More

Posted by dracovir at 00:20 on 27 February 2008 | Report This Post

New Line - tight arses?
Is it me or does it seem like New Line lack a bit of integrity money-wise. First there was the whole thing with Jackson not getting paid and then the Tolkein bunch are taking them to court over money as well. Seems like a pattern is emerging More

Posted by Fluke Skywalker at 11:56 on 26 February 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Watchmen And Hobbit Mired in Legal Cases
#551a8b]'s threatens to block new Hobbit film - Times Online   More

Posted by Mason Verger at 11:47 on 26 February 2008 | Report This Post

RE: ......
Boo hoo. Neither of them sound particularly interesting anyway. More

Posted by tommyjarvis at 08:43 on 13 February 2008 | Report This Post

......
aww belgium. More

Posted by Overmind at 04:50 on 13 February 2008 | Report This Post

WATCHMEN NOO!
It could be the best film ever made - not that its suited perfectly to the medium, but because as a story its quite simply astounding. And just when we thought for the first time that the film was a certainty - arghghghgh! If Fox are successful here, I'll boycott their films, and maybe their TV as well - theyre just greedy as hell. More

Posted by AYBGerrardo at 17:14 on 12 February 2008 | Report This Post

RE: hobbit rights
I thought Watchmen was a DC comic and that Warners owned DC and therefore had the movie rights to all DC comics/characters?  My head hurts... More

Posted by britesparc at 16:02 on 12 February 2008 | Report This Post

hobbit rights
don't the rights to the hobbit revert back to the tolkien estate in 2009?could this be a stalling tactic by the estate in order to get jackson to direct his version? More

Posted by danbo1138 at 15:08 on 12 February 2008 | Report This Post

RE: The Watchmen one smells like bull......
On the Watchmen question, the full story does detail some quite complex to-ings and fro-ings with the rights, which could explain the delay. They may have taken a while to build the case. More

Posted by Helen OHara at 14:39 on 12 February 2008 | Report This Post

RE: The Watchmen one smells like bull......
For fecks sake. Why is it always the films I am most looking forward to that end up with possible problems? How come it's never films like PS I Love you and The Water Horse that are at risk? More

Posted by Diggler at 14:16 on 12 February 2008 | Report This Post

RE: The Watchmen one smells like bull......
L: broonie Also, if they bought the rights in the 80's, why haven't they bothered trying to make the film themselves? What was the point in buying the rights only not to make the film? . sp; I think they tried, isn't there a mention somewhere about Terry Gilliam trying to get a film version of Watchmen together in the late 80s, early 90s but it fell apart? More

Posted by the ageless stranger at 14:04 on 12 February 2008 | Report This Post

RE: The Watchmen one smells like bull......
L: HIM L: the ageless stranger How did Fox not notice until now that a very large studio was making a very large, well-publicised production of a film that they supposedly own the rights to? I smell a studio looking for some free money. y thoughts exactly! why did no one say when the Watchmen was greenlit, "Hang on, we own the rights to that." Instead they wait until well into production when it's probably too late to cancel the film. Also, if they bought the rights in the 80's More

Posted by broonie at 13:02 on 12 February 2008 | Report This Post

RE: The Watchmen one smells like bull......
L: HIM L: the ageless stranger How did Fox not notice until now that a very large studio was making a very large, well-publicised production of a film that they supposedly own the rights to? I smell a studio looking for some free money. y thoughts exactly! why did no one say when the Watchmen was greenlit, "Hang on, we own the rights to that." Instead they wait until well into production when it's probably too late to cancel the film. sp; Maybe because Fox wanted the movie ma More

Posted by Rgirvan44 at 12:57 on 12 February 2008 | Report This Post

RE: The Watchmen one smells like bull......
Maybe they wanted to see one of their rivals spend millions on a film that they couldn't release and then wait for the right moment to maximise publicity with the lawsuit. If it's true Warners have made something of a boo-boo. More

Posted by The Hooded Man at 12:32 on 12 February 2008 | Report This Post

RE: The Watchmen one smells like bull......
L: the ageless stranger How did Fox not notice until now that a very large studio was making a very large, well-publicised production of a film that they supposedly own the rights to? I smell a studio looking for some free money. y thoughts exactly! why did no one say when the Watchmen was greenlit, "Hang on, we own the rights to that." Instead they wait until well into production when it's probably too late to cancel the film. More

Posted by HIM at 12:27 on 12 February 2008 | Report This Post

The Watchmen one smells like bull......
How did Fox not notice until now that a very large studio was making a very large, well-publicised production of a film that they supposedly own the rights to? I smell a studio looking for some free money. More

Posted by the ageless stranger at 11:16 on 12 February 2008 | Report This Post

Didn't Peter Jackson sue new Line as well over money matters in the LOTR trilogy? Methinks they have sticky fingers and don't like to share. More

Posted by rayhiggins at 10:50 on 12 February 2008 | Report This Post

KNOB 'EDS!
just what exactly are new line basing their case for non-payment on? "nope! its all ours!" More

Posted by charltni at 10:49 on 12 February 2008 | Report This Post

KNOB 'EDS!
just what exactly are new line basing their case for non-payment on? "nope! its all ours!" More

Posted by charltni at 10:45 on 12 February 2008 | Report This Post

Lets face it...
...The Hobbit was doomed from the start. More

Posted by tallaght24 at 09:47 on 12 February 2008 | Report This Post


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