J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of The Rings” series is one of the most popular and most successful book-to-film brands of all time. Aside from these, it is also one of the highest earning novel and series of movies. With all the money coming in, it’s no surprise that legal battles have ensued.

‘Lord of the Rings’ overview

Esteemed author J.R.R. Tolkien penned the “Lord of the Rings” fantasy trilogy novels in the late 1930s. It was originally published in three volumes in the 1950s and has since been reprinted countless times. Its popularity spans continents and has also been translated into at least 38 other languages.

LOTR also covers “The Hobbit,” a novel prequel before the trilogy’s story occurred.

Tolkien’s legacy persists until this day. The English author died in 1973 at the age of 81. His family members continue to handle his estates and interests.

Tolkien estate cries foul

It all started with an online casino slot game fashioned after the great “Lord Of The Rings” theme. In a statement from the family of J.R.R. Tolkien, Warners and Saul Zaentz Co. breached a previously signed agreement and contacted regarding the use of the LOTR brand. Warners is Warner Bros. Studio’s subsidiary, and Zaentz is an LOTR rights holder.

According to the family, the studio only had the freedom to create and produce “tangible” merchandise based on the books.

This would not include an online casino and slot games. They called this release “offensive” to the legacy of their patriarch J.R.R. Tolkien, and that damage was irreparable. Along with publisher HarperCollins, the family stood their ground that the studio never had rights to use the hobbits, wizards, elves and other fantasy characters in this manner.

Warner Bros. Studios fights back

To defend themselves, Warner Bros. countersued and declared that their existing contracts gave them rights for the online project.

They claimed that the legal case cost them millions of dollars in licensing and loss of income. Similarly, it also negatively affected the release and earnings of The Hobbit.

During litigation, the movie’s filming continued.

The settlement was 5 years in the making

Years and years of litigation is not good for business and is tiring for the groups involved. Finally, after five years, both parties announced in court that they had reached an amicable decision. Both Warner Bros. Studios and the J.R.R Tolkien estate have decided to settle. Details of the settlement were not released. Surely, would have been beneficial for both parties.

Tolkien’s works have previously been involved in other previous legal battles. Prior this, profit participation from the novels and movies were fought over by New Line and the Tolkien Estate once again. It was settled in 2009 in what was reportedly worth $US 100 million.

Director Peter Jackson also had his fair share of court proceedings. The LOTR director and person critical to the trilogy’s success sued New Line also over film profits. According to Jackson, he was not compensated correctly from the first film. Thankfully, the case was settled in 2007 and relationships weren’t severed. He still directed the other LOTR films.