Makers of the blockbusting Lord Of The Rings movie trilogy are being sued for hundreds of millions of dollars by the estate of author JRR Tolkien.
Lawyers for the estate claim Hollywood-based New Line Cinema has failed to pay "even one penny" from the profits of the films, which have grossed some £3bn ($6bn) worldwide since 2001.They want £77m ($150m) in compensation, as well as "punitive" damages. They are also calling for New Line to be stripped of the right to make any more films based on Tolkien's work.
This would include The Hobbit - plans for two movies were announced last December.
Tolkien's estate and publishers HarperCollins have been named as co-plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by the Tolkien Trust, a UK charity, in Los Angeles Superior Court.
One of their legal team, Bonnie Eskenazi, said: "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."
A spokesman for New Line declined to comment.
The Tolkien trustees' Britain-based lawyer Steven Maier insisted the action was the last resort. He said: "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."
The lawsuit also claims that as well as failing to pay the plaintiffs a cut of the profits from the films, New Line had blocked an audit of the last two in the series, 2002's The Two Towers and 2003's Oscar-winning The Return Of The King.
Source: Sky News