Thursday, July 16, 2009

‘Hobbit’ Heirs Seek $220 Million
For ‘Rings’ Rights

By Brett Pulley - July 15th, 2009 - Bloomberg News

J.R.R. Tolkien sold movie rights to his “Lord of the Rings” novels 40 years ago for 7.5 percent of future receipts. Three films and $6 billion later, his heirs say they haven’t seen a dime from Time Warner Inc.

The accounting methods used by New Line Cinema, the Time Warner unit that made the movies, will face a jury’s scrutiny in October, when the heirs’ lawsuit against the New York-based media company is set for trial in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The case, if not settled by then, may provide a window into accounting practices that let Time Warner deny proceeds of the Oscar-winning films to Tolkien’s heirs. The litigation also threatens to derail two “The Hobbit” films that, if their predecessors are a guide, could generate $4 billion in sales.

“Usually it’s not outright thievery by the studios, but death by contract,” said Pierce O’Donnell, the Los Angeles- based lawyer who represented the late columnist Art Buchwald in a successful case against Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures in 1988. “It’s an esoteric world where black doesn’t mean black, and white doesn’t necessarily mean white.”

Of course the reality is that this egregious practice of ripping off artists is based on the extortion and blackmail based logic of our corrupt court system. As noted in the article, it is standard practice to charge one artist for expenses which were incurred on completely different projects for other artists. Incredibly, since the contract provides for profits on these expenses, the first artist gets ripped off twice. How else do you think a phenomenally successful series of movies that generate $6 billion in sales can rip off the writer, due 7.5% of the gross, and claim he is due NOTHING!

Courts repeatedly have endorsed this idiocy. It is standard practice in Hollywood because our courts embrace the corruption it is dependent upon.

There is no justice in America. Our courts are corrupt.


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