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Tolkien Relatives Sue New Line

The Tolkien Trust filed a suit against New Line Cinema for $150 million in compensatory damages in Los Angeles Superior Court Monday.

The trust is a British charity that represents the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, made into some of the most financially successful Hollywood films released in 2001, 2002 and 2003, respectively.

The trustees, and the novels' original publisher, HarperCollins, claim that New Line failed to pay the plaintiffs any portion of the gross profit participation, which to date total nearly $6 billion.

Along with compensatory damages, the complaint seeks punitive damages and a declaration from the court that the plaintiffs can rightfully terminate any further rights New Line may have to the Tolkien works, including THE HOBBIT.

Bonnie Eskenazi, the trustees' U.S. counsel who filed the complaint, said, "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."

The trusteesâ United Kingdom lawyer, Steven Maier, said his clients had tried to resolve the claims out of court, but "New Line has left them no option at allâ¦To make matters worse, to date New Line has even prevented the plaintiffs from auditing the last two films of the series. The trustees are very aggrieved by New Line's arrogance."

According to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, New Line declined to comment.

The Tolkien Trust is a U.K.-registered charity that has made grants to charitable causes all over the world totaling over $8 million in the last five years.