Film execs Bob and Harvey Weinstein are suing New Line Cinema and Time Warner Inc for dividing "The Hobbit" into three films and refusing to pay them for the second and third films. The brothers are asking for at least USD75 million in damages.
The Weinsteins and Miramax LLC have filed a complaint on Tuesday in New York State Supreme Court, claiming that the the executives at Warner Bros and New Line Cinema split "The Hobbit" film into three parts, depriving them of 5 per cent gross receipt for the last two films.
"The Hobbit," based on the 1937 novel of the same name by J.R.R. Tolkien, is co-written, produced, and directed by Peter Jackson, and is divided into three films. The first one, "An Unexpected Journey," was released in 2012, while the second, "The Desolation of Smaug," has been released on December 11.
A third film, titled "There and Back Again," is expected to hit theatres in 2014.
According to the suit, filed on the eve of the international release of "The Desolation of Smaug," the brothers sold New Line the movie rights to "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy and "The Hobbit" books after spending over $10 million to adapt them. New Line apparently agreed to pay for the "first motion picture," but their agreement did not include "remakes" based on the books.
"This case is about greed and ingratitude," the Weinsteins said in the lawsuit, adding that the plaintiffs deprived them of their right to share in the revenues from the second and third instalment of "The Hobbit."
But Warner Bros is calling the Weinsteins' sale of the movie rights to the company "one of the great blunders in movie history."
"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," Warner Bros has been quoted by Variety as saying.
It has asserted that under their agreement in 1998, Miramax and the Weinstein Brothers are entitled to the profits from 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,' but not on the film's two sequels.
"An Unexpected Journey" grossed $1 billion worldwide.
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