I bet you thought the biggest threat to the world of the Hobbits was Gollum, Sauron and the one Ring. Think again, it’s Christopher Tolkien, son of J.R.R., who wants to shut down Peter Jackson’s two new films based on Tolkien’s The Hobbit directed by Pan’s Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro.
The 83 year old son of the author is feeling economically slighted by New Line Cinema and claims they owe the estate 80 million pounds under an agreement that gave the family a 7.5 percent share of profits from the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Calling his legal action “one last crusade” he’s going to court on June 6 to ask that the rights to “The Hobbit” be “terminated”. He says that his father sold the film rights in 1969 to pay a tax bill. Now he wants the film rights back.
Even as litigation in a California courtroom moves forward so does the work on the upcoming Hobbit films. Ian McKellan is already confirmed, returning as the Wizard Gandalf. Ian Holm who played Bilbo Baggins is supposed to narrate and somehow Viggo Mortensen is supposed to reprise his role as Aragorn though the reluctant warrior never appears in the Hobbit.
The first film is an adaptation of “The Hobbit” and is about the young Bilbo Baggins wanderings, including how he obtained the Ring. The second is set during the fifty years after Baggins returns from his quest for Dragon’s gold up until the story that unfolded in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. It was that period that Tolkien was writing about in his unfinished novel “The Silmarillion”.
Christopher Tolkien had the notes and stories from the unfinished work published in 1973 after his father’s death. And while he fights to regain control over The Hobbit he also is expected to make the film makers lives difficult by restricting their use of The Silmarillion.
Christopher Tolkien’s relatives call him “cantankerous” and doubt he has ever watched the LOTR Trilogy.
I suspect some kind of settlement between Tolkien and New Line will be hammered out allowing the project to go forward. If not, we’ll see whether it’s New Line or Christopher Tolkien that has the Ring of Power that will rule them all!