'The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring' Lawsuit: Peter Jackson vs. New Line

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring'The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.'

'The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring' lawsuit: Peter Jackson vs. New Line Cinema

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, the first film in Peter Jackson's monumentally successful trilogy based on J.R.R. Tolkien's three-part novel, has pitted the filmmaker against New Line Cinema.

According to a March '05 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: The Fellowship of the Ring suit states that New Line pocketed “secret profits”; short-changed Wingnut Films 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 other two films of the Lord of the Rings trilogy: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). The latter film won 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

First 'The Lord of the Rings' movie was major worldwide blockbuster

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring grossed nearly $315 million at the U.S. and Canada box office, and more than $556 million internationally – not including revenues from DVD, TV, VOD, and merchandise sales. Worldwide grand total: $871 million.

The fantasy-adventure tale features, among others:

Elijah Wood. Viggo Mortensen. Orlando Bloom. Sean Astin. Ian McKellen. Ian Holm. Cate Blanchett. Christopher Lee. Andy Serkis. Sean Bean. Hugo Weaving. Liv Tyler.

Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring image: New Line Cinema.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring cast info via the IMDb.

Sofia Coppola to film 'Marie Antoinette' at Versailles

This March, Academy Award winner Sofia Coppola should start filming Marie Antoinette scenes inside the Palace of Versailles. Screenwriter-director Coppola, who won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for Lost in Translation, loosely based her biopic of the Austrian-born queen of France on Antonia Fraser's book Marie Antoinette: The Journey.

Interview with a Vampire and Little Women actress Kirsten Dunst has been cast as the (English-speaking) Austrian-French queen. Jason Schwartzman* (Rushmore, I Heart Huckabees) plays her husband, King Louis XVI, and Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee Rip Torn (Cross Creek) plays his father, Louis XV, a role Alain Delon had previously turned down.

'Marie Antoinette' 1938

In Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's W.S. Van Dyke-directed 1938 Marie Antoinette, the Queen of MGM, Norma Shearer, glamorously (and quite effectively) played the Queen of France. Robert Morley, stealing every scene he's in, played Louis XVI, while a bewigged Tyrone Power was borrowed from 20th Century Fox to play the queen's (fictitious) lover.

Both Norma Shearer and Robert Morley were shortlisted for Academy Awards. (Morley's nomination was in the supporting category.) They lost to, respectively, Bette Davis in Jezebel and Walter Brennan in Kentucky.

Although a sumptuous and prestigious production, Marie Antoinette was so expensive that it ultimately failed to recoup its cost.

* Jason Schwartzman is Sofia Coppola's cousin. He's the son of two-time Oscar nominee Talia Shire (The Godfather: Part II, Rocky), who's the sister of multiple Oscar winner/nominee Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather, The Godfather: Part II), who happens to be Sofia's father.

Marie Antoinette Kirsten Dunst black dress image: Columbia Pictures.

The Time Traveler's Wife Book'The Time Traveler's Wife' book cover.

Gus Van Sant to direct 'The Time Traveler's Wife'?

Mala Noche and Good Will Hunting director Gus Van Sant is currently attempting to turn Audrey Niffenegger's novel The Time Traveler's Wife into a feature film. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the book is a loose retelling of Homer's The Odyssey – a man with a “time-traveling gene” shows up at different points in the life of his beloved.

Jeremy Leven (The Notebook, The Legend of Bagger Vance) has adapted The Time Traveler's Wife into a screenplay.

Hollywood box office: International market beats North America

Dan Glickman, head of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), announced at ShoWest 2005 in Las Vegas that in 2004 U.S. and Canada ticket sales topped $9 billion for the third year in a row.

Although there was a slight drop in movie admissions (the second consecutive yearly drop), these still surpassed the 1.5 billion mark for the third consecutive year – a feat not seen since 1959.

Impressive? Sure. But let's not forget that there are about 130 million more people living in the U.S. and Canada today than in the late 1950s; an approximate 60 percent increase.

Glickman added that Hollywood productions performed well at the international box office – in fact, surpassing the North American market. Overall international box office figures topped $14.9 billion, reflecting a 13.7 percent increase from 2003.

More 'family films'

In the U.S. and Canada, PG-rated films, open to all ages, grossed $2.3 billion in 2004, while R-rated films, aimed at adults, took $2.1 billion. It was the first time in two decades that PG-rated films outperformed R-rated ones; as in previous years, many more R-rated movies were released in '04.

Five of the top 10 biggest box office hits of the year were rated PG, including Brad Bird's The Incredibles; Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury, and Conrad Vernon's Shrek 2; and Alfonso Cuarón's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint. PG-13 films (no one under 13 allowed without a parent or guardian) continue to account for the largest share of the U.S. and Canada box office.

John Fithian, head of the National Association of Theater Owners, said that Hollywood studios should make more “family films.”

Children, after all, can't go to the movies alone – which means at least one extra ticket sold to the accompanying adult. As a plus, kids and teens are great consumers of food and beverages at movie theater concession stands. Now, that is the Family Spirit.

More “family films” indeed.

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