An ongoing debacle between Warner Bros and the Estate has taken a turn, with millions of dollars of merchandising tied to the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings franchises hanging in the balance.
Back in November, Tolkien's heirs filed suit against Warner Bros, claiming the studio was exceeding the limits of their merchandising rights for the Middle-earth characters and "harming Tolkien's legacy". The charge was over online slot machines and other digital merchandising.
But, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros has just responded with a combative countersuit, insisting that the estate now owes them for the potential lost revenue. A Warner Bros attorney has filed a suit that claims the Tolkien Estate affirmed sixteen years ago that online video games were included in his merchandising rights, and Tolkien's actions have damaged the studio.
The Tolkien estate has hit back at the studio, accusing it of bullying tactics. Lawyer Bonnie Eskenazi, representing the Tolkien estate, said in a statement:
The defendants' amended counterclaims are nothing more than an effort to sue the Tolkiens and HarperCollins for suing them. They are entirely without merit and are a classic example of studio 'bullying tactics'...
The Tolkien family's suit would seem more out of altruistic conern for The Hobbit if they weren't previously after $80 million in "damages" and Warner Bros doesn't need Hobbity slot machines to promote their movies. Negative publicity will come to both if they don't settle this quickly and with civility. Anyway, there goes any chance that the Tolkien estate will let the Silmarillion be filmed!
What do you think of the whole shebang?