J.J. Tolkien’s heirs are lodging a complaint against Warner Brothers and several other studios, including New Line. Warner, the producers of the popular trilogy “Lord of the Rings” and the upcoming film “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” are being sued for alleged ‘morally questionable’ merchandizing by the family of their late author.
The complaint alleges that the studio did not comply with the terms of their contract as it relates to merchandising, including profits made from any collateral profit streams relating to the release of a new “Lord of the Rings” movies. The contract was signed well before the advent of digital content. Items which were included in the contract included figurines, tableware, stationery, clothes, etc.
The lawsuit was filed on Monday in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. The estate of J.R.R. Tolkien, author of “The Lord of The Rings” trilogy and “The Hobbit,” is reportedly upset over the digital marketing of merchandise related to the popular epics. The estate has claimed that a merchandizing agreement can apply only to physical products but not to the electronic products or services that are currently up for sale. The damages claimed are reportedly in the vicinity of $80 million, liable to be paid by Warner Bros., its New Line subsidiary and rights holder Saul Zaentz Co. if the charges are proved.
The lawsuit comes into action just a week before the premiere of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” in Wellington. Warner Bros. declined to respond when contacted about the claims.
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