Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit Sued for $75m for Splitting Tolkien’s Book Into Three Films

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By Lianna Brinded | December 12, 2013 6:45 PM EST

Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit Sued for $75m for Splitting Tolkien’s Book Into Three Films (Photo: Official The Hobbit Website)

Time Warner is being sued for splitting J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy masterpiece, The Hobbit, into three films because Time Warner is allegedly refusing to pay the famous Weinstein brother producers for the second and third instalments.

The Hollywood heavyweights, Bob and Harvey Weinstein, said they are suing Time Warner for at least $75m (£46m, €54m) after the group decided to split Tolkien's book into three parts that meant that they were only making money out of the first film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

The first film was released in 2012 and grossed more than $1bn worldwide. The second film The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was released on 13 December in the US and UK.

"This case is about greed and ingratitude," said the Weinsteins and Miramax, which the brothers founded.

"Warner takes this position solely to deprive plaintiffs of their right to share in the revenues from two of the three filmed instalments of The Hobbit."

According to a complaint filed in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, the Weinstein brothers said executives at Warner Brothers and its New Line Cinema unit chose to split The Hobbit as a pretext to deprive them of 5% of the gross receipts from the last two films.

Warner Brothers hit back at the Weinsteins' allegations by saying they simply made a business mistake when they sold the film rights to New Line. New Line had agreed to make payments for the "first motion picture" but not "remakes", based on the books.

In 1998, the Weinsteins said they had sold New Line the movie rights to The Hobbit and Tolkien's trilogy The Lord of the Rings, after having spent more than $10m to adapt them.

"This is about one of the great blunders in movie history," said a Warner Brothers spokesman.

"Fifteen years ago Miramax, run by the Weinstein brothers, sold its rights in The Hobbit to New Line. No amount of trying to rewrite history can change that fact.

"They agreed to be paid only on the first motion picture based on The Hobbit. And that's all they're owed."

The Weinsteins said they had in 1998 sold New Line the movie rights to The Hobbit and Tolkien's trilogy The Lord of the Rings, after having spent more than $10m to adapt them. They said New Line had agreed to make payments for the "first motion picture" but not "remakes", based on the books.

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