After years of fighting, with twists and turns and reams of legal writing to rival the books that caused them, the legal battle between Warner Bros. and estate of J.R.R. Tolkien has been settled.
The legal cases surrounding the Lord of the Rings movies is basically as never-ending as the ending of Return of the King. Back in 2007, Peter Jackson and New Line settled a lawsuit about the profits Jackson said he was owed.
This latest case started in 2012 and had on one side the estate of Tolkien and the publisher of the books, HarperCollins. On the other side was Warner Bros. and Saul Zaentz Co. The former claims the latter licensed the Lord of the Rings in a way the terms of the deal did not allow—basically they said they couldn’t put the characters in things as intangible as digital games and slot machines.
The latter claimed that the action of the others cost them millions in licensing they did have the legal right to.
As bad is it got, the two sides have come to a settlement that is reportedly “amicable.” Which is interesting only insofar as it might affect Warner Bros. ability to make more movies set in Middle-Earth. As it is, they only have the rights to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, which Tolkien sold in the ‘60s. And the rest of the books are in the hands of Christopher Tolkien, who has never had an interest in selling the rights. And this whole mess could not have helped.
So, the odds of a Silmarillion movie have increased from a “snowball’s chance in Hell” to “a snowman’s chance in Hell.”