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Judge In ‘Lord Of The Rings’ Suit Denies Warner Bros’ Lawyer Disqualification Motion

By | Tuesday July 22, 2014 @ 12:27pm PDT

Judge In ‘Lord Of The Rings’ Suit Denies Warner Bros’ Lawyer Disqualification MotionA federal judge today has denied a motion seeking to disqualify lawyers repping the estate of The Lord Of The Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien in its $80 million copyright and digital merchandising lawsuit against Warner Bros and the Saul Zaentz Company. The studio and its partner in early June filed a motion to have Fourth Age’s lawyers, Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP, disqualified the almost-2-year-old suit ”because the firm impermissibly gained access to privileged information in violation of Rules of Professional Conduct.”

In today’s three-page order (read it here), U.S. District Court Judge Audrey Collins wrote that “Warner and Zaentz have not met their burden of showing that disqualification is necessary to preserve the integrity of these proceedings.” WB is repped by Daniel Petrocelli of LA firm O’Melveny & Meyers; Saul Zaentz Co is repped by Martin Glick of San Francisco firm Arnold & Porter LLP. Read More »

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Warner Bros Wants Bert Fields’ Law Firm Tossed From ‘Lord Of The Rings’ Case

By | Tuesday June 10, 2014 @ 12:31pm PDT

DJP LEGAL BADGEThe $80 million legal battle between Warner Bros and the Saul Zaentz Company and the estate of The Lord Of The Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien over copyright and digital merchandising just took another turn – this time against some of the lawyers. The warner_bros_logo_by_warnerbrosplz-d4jcoxr-2__130313223131__130711194807studio and its partner in this case this week filed a motion to have Fourth Age’s lawyers Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP disqualified from the case. “Warner and Zaentz bring this motion to disqualify Greenberg as counsel of record for the Tolkien/HC Parties in this litigation and for other relief, because the firm impermissibly gained access to privileged information in violation of Rules of Professional Conduct,” said the motion filed yesterday in federal court. WB and Zaentz have asked for a hearing on July 7 for Judge Audrey Collinsto to rule on their motion (read it here).

The other side says this is all a smokescreen. “There is absolutely no basis for the motion filed by WB and Zaentz yesterday,” said Greenberg attorney Bonnie Eskenazi today. ”Greenberg Glusker acted properly in all respects at all times.  The motion was filed for purely and transparently tactical and strategic reasons. We look forward to the Court vindicating our position.” The filing comes just over two weeks after the court denied a motion by Zarntz seeking to get a review of a document it wanted clawbacked. That ruling allowed the third-party business proposal paperwork with its reference to “tangibility” in the margins to be included in the case.  It is non-tangible merchandising, such as online slot machines and other digital merchandising, that makes up the heart of the Tolkien estate’s case. While a partner in the firm, heavyweight Hollywood lawyer Bert Fields is not directly involved in this case. Read More »

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Peter Jackson Retitles ‘Hobbit’ Finale To ‘The Battle Of The Five Armies’

Mike Fleming

hobbitjacksonOn his Facebook page, Peter Jackson revealed that he has retitled the final installment of The Hobbit, which he had originally titled There And Back Again. All I can say is that after being initially skeptical when Jackson revealed he was turning the single J.R.R. Tolkien book and some appendices into a full trilogy, the second film was so strong after a whimsical first effort that I cannot wait to see the conclusion of this massive tale, and that he was right to stretch it out. The new title certainly conveys more urgency.

Here is Jackson’s missive:

“Our journey to make The Hobbit Trilogy has been in some ways like Bilbo’s own, with hidden paths revealing their secrets to us as we’ve gone along. “There and Back Again” felt like the right name for the second of a two film telling of the quest to reclaim Erebor, when Bilbo’s arrival there, and departure, were both contained within the second film. But with three movies, it suddenly felt misplaced—after all, Bilbo has already arrived “there” in the “Desolation of Smaug”.

When we did the premiere trip late last year, I had a quiet conversation with the studio about the idea of revisiting the title. We decided to keep an open mind until a cut of the film was ready to look at. We reached that point last week, and after viewing the movie, we all agreed there is now one title that feels … Read More »

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Sean Astin Gets Political In Kickstarter Plea

By | Tuesday October 1, 2013 @ 6:30pm PDT
Mike Fleming

While some diehard fans follow the career moves of Twilight Saga cast members with fervor, I find myself more interested with the post-franchise careers of the cast of my favorite movie trilogy, The Lord Of The Rings. Especially the Hobbits. I’ve written often about how Elijah Wood, beyond starring in the FX series Wilfred, has gotten into producing and has turned his Frodo image on its ear with roles like the slasher he plays in Maniac. Dominic Monaghan found his calling on the TV show Wild Things, crawling into godawful places to grab onto dangerous-looking oversized insects and animals. Now, Sean Astin, of Samwise Gamgee fame, has taken to Kickstarter for his passion project. That is hosting Vox Populi, a political interview show on the web. Astin, who still makes his living acting and is currently part of the cast of Guillermo del Toro’s FX pilot The Strain, is looking for $30,000 from Kickstarter to take his web show to the next level. That means hiring a couple of people so he doesn’t have to do everything himself. Read More »

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Warner Bros Scores Legal Win In ‘Lord Of The Rings’ Battle With Tolkien Estate

By | Thursday July 11, 2013 @ 12:41pm PDT

Warner Bros’ claims against the estate of The Lord Of The Rings author J.R.R Tolkien will live to fight another day. A federal judge today rejected the estate trustees and Fourth Age Ltd’s motion to dismiss WB and the Saul Zaentz Company’s counterclaims in the multimillion-dollar court battle. “Fourth Age’s Motions to Dismiss Amended Counterclaims and Special Motions to Strike Amended Counterclaims are DENIED,” wrote U.S. District Court judge Audrey Collins in a dense 6-page order (read it here). In March, WB and Zaentz fired back at the estate’s November 2012 $80 million copyright and merchandising lawsuit. The defendant claimed it was hurt financially and had its rights to the author’s properties undermined. WB said in the March filing that the online and other rights being contested by the estate and publisher HarperCollins were worked out Read More »

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Warner Bros Fires Back At ‘Hobbit’ Creator’s Estate & Publisher In $80M Case

By | Wednesday March 13, 2013 @ 3:35pm PDT

Warner Bros says a multimillion-dollar merchandising lawsuit from the estate of Lord of The Rings creator J.R.R. Tolkien and publisher HarperCollins has hurt it financially, undermined its rights to the author’s properties, and it wants big bucks in damages. “Counterclaim Defendants are simply attempting to extract additional huge sums of money for rights and/or take back rights that they had already granted,” the studio says in documents (read them here) filed this week in federal court. While damages are not specified in the counterclaim, the request for a jury trial does state that Warner Bros lost millions in license fees because of the fallout from the rights dispute. The claims by the studio come almost five months after the Tolkien Estate Ltd, its trustees and News Corp-owned publisher sued Warners, its New Line subsidiary and The Saul Zaentz Company’s Middle-earth Enterprises division in an $80 million copyright infringement and breach of contract dispute over video games, online slot machines and other digital merchandising. That legal move occurred just under a month before the first movie in the Warner Bros-distributed and Peter Jackson-directed trilogy The Hobbit hit the big screen December 14. The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, directed by Jackson, has made almost $3 billion in worldwide box office. Read More »

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R.I.P. Mike Hopkins

By | Monday December 31, 2012 @ 12:08am PST

Oscar-winning sound editor Mike Hopkins drowned in an accident while he and friends were rafting in the Tararua Range in northern New Zealand. Hopkins, 53, was found dead by a helicoptor rescue team after an inflatable craft capsized on the Waiohine River on Sunday afternoon, according to The OneRing.net blog. His rafting companions, a man and a woman, survived. Police told the Australian that all three people were wearing life jackets, wetsuits and helmets and it appeared that Hopkins ran into trouble after they were thrown from the craft in a fast flowing current. Hopkins and Ethan Van der Ryn won Academy Awards for Sound Editing on director Peter Jackson’s The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers and King Kong. Hopkins, pictured on left with Van der Ryn, first worked for Jackson as sound designer for the director’s 1992 horror-comedy Braindead. It was the first of several collaborations over the next 20 years. Hopkins also worked on Heavenly Creatures as well as The Lord of The Rings trilogy. Hopkins and Van der Ryn were also nominated for sound editing on the first of the Transformers movies. Hopkins was also nominated for five British Academy of Film and Television Arts  awards. Hopkins film credits also include ADR or dialogue editor on Public Enemies, Valkyrie, Kung Fu Panda and Dreamgirls. Hopkins is featured in this YouTube video about the sound design for The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers:

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Warner Bros Sued For $80M By J.R.R Tolkien Estate & Publisher

By | Monday November 19, 2012 @ 7:07pm PST

The estate of Lord Of The Rings author J.R.R Tolkien went after Warner Bros today in an $80 million lawsuit over online slot machines and other digital merchandising. In the complaint (read it here), the Tolkien Estate Ltd, its trustees and News Corp-owned publisher HarperCollins have charged the studio, its New Line subsidiary and The Saul Zaentz Company’s Middle-earth Enterprises division with copyright infringement and breach of contract. It’s not the hugely successful movies they’re fighting over this time. Now its merchandising that the estate says was never anticipated as part of its original deal back in 1969. “The original contracting parties thus contemplated a limited grant of the right to sell consumer products of the type regularly merchandised at the time (such as figurines, tableware, stationery items, clothing and the like). They did not include any grant of exploitations such as electronic or digital rights, rights in media yet to be devised or other intangibles such as rights in services,” says the 26-page complaint. This legal move comes just under a month before the first movie in the Warner Bros-distributed and Peter Jackson-directed trilogy The Hobbit hits the big screen December 14. The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, directed by Jackson, has made almost $3 billion in worldwide box office. Read More »

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