Ever since the release of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, a conflict has brewed between the author’s estate and Warner Bros., New Line, and Jackson, both over the creative content of the movie and the financial distribution. Years and years of dispute suggest that the future of Middle-earth movies is bleak.
Like many quarrels in Hollywood, the Tolkien/Warner Bros. spat can be narrowed down to an argument about money. Part of the author’s estate’s contract with the film studio said that a percentage of the profits from any adaptation of Tolkien’s work would go back to them, and it became a bit of a controversy following the release of The Lord of The Rings trilogy. The three movies made a reported $2.9 billion at the global box office, but when those box office totals were combined with project’s expenses, the studio claimed that the movie didn’t make a profit – thus reportedly shortchanging the Tolkien estate. In an interview with Le Monde back in 2012, Tolkien Estate lawyer Cathleen Blackburn recounted, “These hugely popular films apparently did not make any profit! We were receiving statements saying that the producers did not owe the Tolkien Estate a dime.”
Sometimes I hate finding out about all the garbage that goes on behind the scenes with this stuff. I always feel like I need to take a shower. On the one hand, it feels like those in charge of the Tolkien estate are being whiny. On the other hand, is Warner Bros. really trying to say that they aren’t making a dime — nay that they are actually losing money on the Tolkien films and that they’re just making them out of the goodness of their hearts? Give me a break. So I can see the grievance the Tolkien estate has with Warner Bros.
Of course Christopher Tolkien’s comments about what they did to the story with The Lord of the Rings also seems quite absurd and uncalled for. You can’t put a book straight onto the screen, he has to know that.
Frankly, what I want is for everybody to stop bickering, and start getting along and making great films.