- Peter Jackson and his WingNut Films vs. New Line Cinema: The Lord of the Rings lawsuit pits former professional partners against one another.
The Lord of the Rings lawsuit: Peter Jackson vs. ‘willful, wanton’ New Line Cinema
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is the first entry in Peter Jackson’s monumentally successful movie trilogy based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s three-part, Middle-earth-set fantasy novel (1954–55) about little hobbits fighting big orcs over a tiny but all-powerful ring. Off screen, The Fellowship of the Ring has led to another kind of battle – what’s known in Upper-earth as a “lawsuit” – pitting the filmmaker against New Line Cinema.
According to a March 2005 Associated Press report, Jackson’s production company WingNut Films has filed a lawsuit against New Line and its subsidiary Katja Motion Pictures. In the suit, Jackson alleges that New Line has – via “willful, wanton, malicious, oppressive, [and] fraudulent” means – cheated him out of profits from his 2001 worldwide blockbuster and Best Picture Academy Award nominee.
Among its numerous claims, the Lord of the Rings lawsuit states that New Line pocketed “secret profits”; short-changed WingNut by way of sweetheart deals with affiliates; and allowed its subsidiaries to overcharge for services rendered, thus hindering WingNut’s profit participation.
A positive outcome for Peter Jackson could possibly result in a settlement for the filmmaker’s two other movies in the Lord of the Rings trilogy: The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King (2003). The latter won 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.
At the domestic box office, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring grossed nearly $315 million – in addition to $556 million internationally. Of course, that doesn’t include revenues from DVD, TV, VOD, and merchandising sales.
Peter Jackson’s fantasy-adventure tale features, among others:
Elijah Wood. Viggo Mortensen. Orlando Bloom. Sean Astin. Ian Holm. Cate Blanchett.
Billy Boyd. Dominic Monaghan. Christopher Lee. Sean Bean. Hugo Weaving. Liv Tyler.
Marton Csokas. John Rhys-Davies. Sala Baker. Mark Ferguson. Andy Serkis (voice).
Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee Ian McKellen as Gandalf.
“Lord of the Rings Lawsuit” endnotes
Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Sean Astin, and Elijah Wood The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring image: New Line Cinema.
“Lord of the Rings Lawsuit: Partners Fight Over Profits” last updated in September 2021.