Tolkien Estate/Harper Collins Suing Film Producers for $80M

J.R.R. Tolkien’s estate and HarperCollins, publisher of the late author’s works, has filed an $80 million lawsuit against Warner Bros. and its New Line Cinema subsidiary in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. The estate apparently has taken umbrage with what it deems “morally questionable” products based on the late author’s works, specifically Warner/New Line’s merchandising of gambling paraphernalia utilizing characters and plots from Tolkien’s creations.

“Not only does the production of gambling games patently exceed the scope of defendants’ rights, but this infringing conduct has outraged Tolkien’s devoted fan base, causing irreparable harm to Tolkien’s legacy and reputation and the valuable goodwill generated by his works,” the lawsuit stated.

According to Shelf Awareness, the lawsuit does not involve Peter Jackson’s Hobbit film trilogy, which Warner Bros. distributes, since the Tolkien Estate, HarperCollins, and New Line came to an out-of-court settlement in 2009 over studio profits from the Lord of the Rings movies.

Previous targets of the Tolkien estate include a pub and a New Zealand scientist.

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Michael Rogers ( is Media Editor, Library Journal and Managing Editor of LJ Reviews.