Warner Bros, Tolkien Estate Settle $80 Million ‘Hobbit,’ ‘Lord of the Rings’ Lawsuit

Settlement ends five-year legal battle

Warner Bros. and the estate of author J.R.R. Tolkien have amicably resolved a five-year legal battle over the digital exploitation of “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” films.

The conflict dates back to 2012, when the Tolkien estate and book publisher HarperCollins filed a $80 million lawsuit alleging that Warners, its New Line subsidiary and rights holder Saul Kaentz Co. infringed copyright and breached contract.

The plaintiffs claimed that the studio never had rights to license characters from the hit films in digital offshoots such as online slot machines, video games and other digital merchandising.

In response, Warner Bros. filed counterclaims, alleging that the repudiation by the estate of the revered fantasy writer cost the company millions of dollars in licensing opportunities and less exposure to directer Peter Jackson two trilogies. The studio demanded damages for its own claim of breach of contract.

A legal filing, released Monday, said the two parties have resolved their difference “amicably.” Terms of the settle have not been disclosed. Per the filing, no party is entitled to recover fees or costs.

Warner Bros. and HarperCollins have not responded to TheWrap’s request for comment.

“The Complaint, the Warner Amended Counterclaim, and the Zaentz Amended Counterclaim are dismissed in their entirety with prejudice as to all parties thereto,” notes the filing.

This doesn’t mark the only legal tussle between Tolkien’s estate and Warner Bros.: In 2009, in order to proceed with the making of “The Hobbit,” the estate and New Line, a division of the studio, came to a settlement after Tolkien’s representatives claimed the company had cheated it out of millions of dollars in earnings.

Collectively, the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” films have grossed close to $6 billion at the worldwide box office.

The Hollywood Reporter first reported news of the settlement.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.