The Tolkien Trust, the British charity that manages the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien, and publisher HarperCollins filed a $150 million lawsuit against New Line Cinema on Monday reports Variety.
The suit claims the trust has not received any of its gross profit participation payments for the three films based on the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and seeks both punitive damages and a court declaration that they can terminate any further rights New Line may have to the Tolkien works under the agreements including the upcoming “The Hobbit” film.
According to the suit New Line has failed to pay the Tolkien Trust any portion of the gross profit participation (up to 7.5% of the gross) to which they are entitled under their deal, despite the $6 billion in revenue the trilogy has made the studio.
The estate’s U.S. Counsel Bonnie Eskenazi says “New Line has brought new meaning to the phrase ‘creative accounting.’ I cannot imagine how on earth New Line will argue to a jury that these films could gross literally billions of dollars, and yet the creator’s heirs, who are entitled to a share of gross receipts, don’t get a penny.”
This comes just two months after New Line and Peter Jackson settled their own notorious fight about profit participation in the “Rings” trilogy. New Line declined to comment on the new suit.