Tolkien Estate Sues New Line Over Slot Machines But ‘The Hobbit’ is Safe

Lord of the Rings Slot

According to Variety, the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien is filing suit against Warners, New Line and the Saul Zaentz Company for what they claim is a breach of their original 1969 licensing agreement. The estate is seeking $80m.

At issue here is the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit-flavored slot machines and online gambling games that the estate claims violate the limited use terms of their agreement (they probably couldn’t have anticipated internet gambling or video games in 1969, and the contract apparently doesn’t cover rights for media not yet devised at the time of signing).

The good news here is that this scrape between partners shouldn’t at all affect their ability to make movies together. They have a symbiotic business relationship that creates vast amounts of money, so it’s easy to imagine that even if this creates some soreness, both have a vested interest in continuing to mine for gold together. This comes on the heels of the Peter Jackson-led production getting into trouble with animal groups over the allegations of dozens of animal deaths on set (which Jackson has roundly condemned). However, if the estate is really worried about sullying the author’s good name and the good faith his work produced, they might want to get upset about Gandalf and Bilbo using Windows Phones.