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Movies Media Lord of the Rings

New Line And Jackson - Irreconcilable Differences 298

Posted by Zonk
from the [vader]noooooooo[/vader] dept.
Petersko writes to mention a CNN article about an escalation between Peter Jackson and New Line that likely means we'll never see a Jackson-helmed "Hobbit" film. From the article: "In an interview with the Sci Fi Channel news service Sci Fi Wire, [New Line co-chairman Bob] Shaye said Jackson will never make another movie for the studio and said the filmmaker just wants more money. 'I don't care about Peter Jackson anymore,' Shaye said. 'He wants to have another $100 million or $50 million, whatever he's suing us for. He doesn't want to sit down and talk about it. He thinks that we owe him something after we've paid him over a quarter of a billion dollars. ... Cheers, Peter.'"
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Peter Jackson Unlikely To Direct a Hobbit Film

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  • might be fair (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    how much did THEY make from the films?
    • Re:might be fair (Score:4, Insightful)

      by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Friday January 12, 2007 @10:22PM (#17585866)
      Irrelevant. What's fair is that he gets paid what was in the contract. Doesn't matter whether that's 250 million, 10 bucks or a billion. If he thinks that dodgy accounting practices are responsible for reducing his cut, he has every right to challenge the accounting.
      • What's fair is that he gets paid what was in the contract. Doesn't matter whether that's 250 million, 10 bucks or a billion.
        It depends on yoour point of view. In Europe its a) not considered fair, and b) prohibited by our version of copyrigiht law. So e.g. if he indeed had made the movie for 10 bucks, a court would assign a suiting part of the revenew to him, of course he had to sue first ... but he would always win.

        OTOH, under which law did he sign the contract? US or Australian? Note: if he "earned" 250 m
        • Re:might be fair (Score:4, Insightful)

          by MinutiaeMan (681498) * on Friday January 12, 2007 @11:24PM (#17586478) Homepage
          But don't forget that profits from films and other forms of entertainment are often divided based on percentages. How can one be certain they're getting their contractually agreed-upon share without open and equal access to the financial numbers? Based on my reading of the various articles, that seems to be the core of the dispute. Peter Jackson's open letter specifically stated it's not primarily about the money... it's about fulfilling contractual obligations and receiving the (perfectly normal) right to have full access to the accounting information.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Tatarize (682683)
            His suit is based on unfair practices by Time Warner. The movies made a crapload and the secondary profits the merchandising rights, which Jackson gets a cut of, were sold off to other Time Warner companies for less than they could have gotten.

            This is happens a lot with these giant places, they just sell the rights within the companies and don't make as much profit because they undersold it. This is the same crap that Fox pulled with X-Files having sold the syndication rights to FX for much less than they w
        • by astromog (866411) on Friday January 12, 2007 @11:39PM (#17586630)
          under which law did he sign the contract? US or Australian?

          Contrary to popular opinion across the ditch, Australian law doesn't hold in NZ just yet.

  • well (Score:4, Informative)

    by mastershake_phd (1050150) on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:21PM (#17585206) Homepage
    He thinks that we owe him something after we've paid him over a quarter of a billion dollars. ...Z

    With that kinda cash he can finance his own movies.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Xybot (707278)
      Mr Bob Shaye is a multi billionaire, I'm sure he wouldn't be shy in questioning dodgy accounting practises if he was on the recieving end
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      It's about the rights, dumbass.

      Oops! Sorry, Red!
  • by QueePWNzor (1044224) on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:23PM (#17585214) Journal
    Does it really matter? If they find a competant guy, who cares for him. He just has a more famous name, that's all.
  • by macadamia_harold (947445) on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:24PM (#17585220) Homepage
    'He wants to have another $100 million or $50 million, whatever he's suing us for. He doesn't want to sit down and talk about it. He thinks that we owe him something after we've paid him over a quarter of a billion dollars.

    It would seem the disagreement comes over "creative accounting" practices over at New Line. It would also seem that Peter Jackson has already tried to "sit down and talk about it".

    What's really sad is that Shaye is such typical Hollywood; he actually believes an ego-driven pissing contest is more important than creating good work, and paying artists what the contract specifies.
    • It would seem the disagreement comes over "creative accounting" practices over at New Line.
      That was my take on it as well.

      Peter Jackson is being reasonably civil about it in the public eye, while Shaye is acting like a shitcock.

    • by mblase (200735)
      What's really sad is that Shaye is such typical Hollywood; he actually believes an ego-driven pissing contest is more important than creating good work, and paying artists what the contract specifies.

      When you're the guy with the money, instead of the guy creating the art... yeah, that is more important.

      The first rule of Hollywood is simple: they're there to MAKE MONEY. Hollywood always has been about making money, not making great art. People who want to tell a great story on a shoestring budget write novel
      • by Tim Browse (9263) on Friday January 12, 2007 @10:14PM (#17585818)

        Anyone who complains about Hollywood producers trying to make, and keep, all the money they can needs to wake up.

        So your logic is, if someone has a history of acting like a selfish jerk, you should just let them get away with it, because "that's what they do"?

        I think it's perfectly reasonable for Jackson to make a Hollywood picture, in the knowledge that some people at Hollywood are dishonest sharks. If he then calls them on being dishonest sharks, more power to him.

        Just because they always do it, doesn't mean it's right, or that they should continue to get away with it.

  • I'd say... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KoshClassic (325934) on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:24PM (#17585224)
    I don't know what the terms of the contract were, but if Jackson's contract calls for him to be paid more, then I'd say he's completely justified in thinking they owe him something after they've paid him a quarter of a billion dollars. That's why contracts are negotiated - otherwise he could have taken his business elsewhere. They can't retroactively say "We paid you $250 million and that's an awful lot of money, don't be greedy" if they agreed to $300 million.

    • Re:I'd say... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by lawrenlives (991376) on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:29PM (#17585280)
      His whole claim is that they defrauded him on millions based on merchandising and other subsidiary rights. If a contract is based on a percentage, and they ferried all these deals off to various companies that are *part* of New Line's enterprise, they pocket a pile of cash and he gets screwed, right? Right. The claim is more or less valid, no matter how greedy he seemed. 250 million? Pocket change!
    • Re:I'd say... (Score:5, Informative)

      by ivan256 (17499) on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:32PM (#17585322)
      It's common for movie studios to come up with fees that they charge themselves to make the bottom line whatever they want it to be. If they owe somebody a percentage of the bottom line, they are very good at making that number be as low as possible. The thing is that when you charge yourself a fee, you still get all the money. It's a ridiculous scam, and it seems to me like people in Hollywood are either too worried about the glamour, or are busy suing each other over it.

      I don't know the specifics of this dispute, but I'd bet money that it boils down to "my contract says I get x% of this pool of money, and you are lying about the size of that pool of money".
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by R_Growler (84235)
        I have worked for [big] movie studios and you are unfortunately very right.
        oh, how I wish you weren't!

        (before you ask.. accounting software is my game...)

        -RG.
             
  • Aroo? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by inphinity (681284) on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:26PM (#17585244) Homepage
    I could be mistaken, but I was pretty sure that Peter Jackson is only suing to have an audit done, as his main allegation has always been that accounting practices on the previous LotR movies were a bit, er, shady.


    Sure, he'll probably get some more money out of it (if he's right), but it sounds to me like New Line is attempting one hell of a mischaracterization...

    • I think you're spot on. From the e-mail that Jackson sent to TheOneRing.net:

      "You may also be aware that Wingnut Films has bought a lawsuit against New Line, which resulted from an audit we undertook on part of the income of The Fellowship of the Ring. Our attitude with the lawsuit has always been that since it's largely based on differences of opinion about certain accounting practices, we would like an independent body - whether it be a judge, a jury, or a mediator, to look at the issues and make an un
  • hmm (Score:4, Informative)

    by Phil246 (803464) on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:32PM (#17585314)
    Dont newline cinema have a finite period of time in which they can do the hobbit before they lose the rights to it?
    • Pretty much, and from what I've read (certainly I could have misunderstood) a Peter Jackson Hobbit movie is pretty much inevitable. The question is wether he does it for New Line soon, or (directly?) for the estate later. The question is how long would they wait after New Line finishes their Hobbit movie?

      Certainly if New Line really makes a real smash of a flick without Peter Jackson they may not bother.

      It's a shame that you have to be such a run away success in order to have enough money to sue for what yo
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by steve_bryan (2671)
        It's a shame that you have to be such a run away success in order to have enough money to sue for what you are due.

        It was on a different scale financially and quite a while ago but I recall a similar incident with the actor James Garner as the aggrieved party concerning a great deal of shady accounting (a claim that "The Rockford Files" never made a profit). But he had been in so many successful TV series that he had enough money finally to get his much delayed day in court and prevail. The people who were
  • Give it a week (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sammyo (166904) on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:36PM (#17585362) Journal
    Who says Shaye will be there next week? Things could change in
    an hour. An active lawsuit certainly affects business partners
    but the studios board just needs to make the tiny conceptual
    leap that another couple billion dollars is better than Shaye.

    Sheesh, anyone believe ANYTHING said in H'wood? Give me a break.

  • by mbone (558574) on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:37PM (#17585384)
    and if I was Chairman of his board he would be fired.

    Nevermind how much Peter Jackson was paid - how much did he make for them ? Yes, I am sure he can be replaced - after all, movies of the quality and popularity of LOTR are so common.
  • More to come (Score:5, Informative)

    by martijnd (148684) on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:38PM (#17585394)
    Ok, the story as I understand it now, or at least as far as it is reported in the various press releases.

    NewLine has limited time left to produce the Hobbit, before the movie rights return back to another company. Peter Jackson is suing New Line because their own audit of Fellowship of the Ring came up with figures that didn't match what NewLine paid to them. Their contract has regulations for this , and since NewLine refuses give more insight into their accounting, they are left with a courtcase.

    NewLine then tried to get Peter Jackson to drop the lawsuit by telling him "drop the lawsuit, and you can make the hobbit". This was refused by PJ in a public letter, who stated that he wouldn't want to invest time and efford into a new project while the courtcase is still unresolved.

    NewLine can now make a Hobbit without PJ, or do nothing and see the rights to a valuable movie franchise revert to its previous owners within the not too far future.

    Meanwhile, MGM holds the distribution rights for the Hobbit, and has already said on record that they would want Peter Jackson to direct the film.

    (and as for whom owns what, Google the details)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cptgrudge (177113)

      Meanwhile, MGM holds the distribution rights for the Hobbit, and has already said on record that they would want Peter Jackson to direct the film.

      In a movie trilogy such as LOTR with such a large cast, the director kinda becomes the Superstar. MGM knows this, and would have no problem raking in a few hundred million by getting Peter Jackson to do it when they get the rights back. For many fans and even normal people, Peter Jackson is LOTR, and New Line is foolish if they think that the majority wouldn't just dismiss it outright, even if a comparable director was at hand and they could convince those few of the cast to reprise their roles.

      I wo

      • I'd probably wait for the reviews.

        I'm betting without PJ it would suck badly but if they got the director of the first 3 Harry Potters or some of the other recent fantasy movies that didn't butcher the source material it might not come out too badly.

        PJ is a great director and respects the material.
        There are 5 billion plus people and many directors on the planet.
        PJ is not the ONLY great director who respects source material.

        But there are many who do not.

        And hollywood always wonders why people won't see the l
      • Re:More to come (Score:5, Informative)

        by scdeimos (632778) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @01:56AM (#17587748)
        "Don't go see it, Peter Jackson didn't direct it." would be a common phrase if New Line did it. At least that's what I'd tell everyone that would listen.

        I'm not sure I agree with that. Rings Geeks like us might hold that viewpoint, but the Average Joe who just goes to the movies to be entertained won't know or care who directs the movie (or movies, since it sounds like New Line has another movie planned to slot in between The Hobbit and LOTR).

        Making gross (and I mean horrible) estimates, Rings Geeks might account for 10% of the movie-going audience. Even if every single one of them boycotts a non-PJ-made Hobbit, New Line would still do exceedingly well out of it.

        Personally, I hope that everyone New Line approaches to direct The Hobbit tells them where to stick it, that the rights will revert to Tolkien Enterprises and MGM so that they get PJ to make it for them. Take that, New Line! :)

        For anyone who's forgotten, it's not just Peter Jackson who questioned New Line's creative accounting over the Rings movies - In 2004 (I think) Tolkien Enterprises [wikipedia.org] also sued New Line for over $20 million in unpaid royalties for Fellowship of The Ring.

  • The LOTR movies are in the lists of top grossing films. Adding up the numbers from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_highest-gross ing_films [wikipedia.org] seem to indicate that ~3 Billion has been made. Assuming Jacking is getting a percentage of gross (if he was smart) would mean that 300 million would be ~10 % which sounds reasonable. Of course this doesn't include rentals and DVD purchases etc. which could easily be another billion. $0.02
  • Jackson's right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by popo (107611) on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:53PM (#17585576) Homepage
    Movie studios do this kind of thing all the time. Frequently they give actors and directors "points on the back" which is supposed to mean a portion of "profit".

    What the studios do is claim the film hasn't made any profit, and cite an enormous number of line items which cost the producers money.

    What the studios have actually done is just shuffled money around: Spending in one place, and earning back somewhere else. Its an effort to avoid paying for those points.

    There's a famous story of Forrest Gump which was smash hit, but supposedly never made any money because of creative financing. The studio got rich, and those with backend points never got a dime.

    The audit Jackson wants to do would very likely trace those lost profits right back to the producers.
    • Movie studios do this kind of thing all the time. Frequently they give actors and directors "points on the back" which is supposed to mean a portion of "profit".

      What the studios do is claim the film hasn't made any profit, and cite an enormous number of line items which cost the producers money.

      What the studios have actually done is just shuffled money around: Spending in one place, and earning back somewhere else. Its an effort to avoid paying for those points.

      Philip Henslowe: But I have to pay the actors and the author.
      Hugh Fennyman: Share of the profits.
      Philip Henslowe: There's never any.
      Hugh Fennyman: Of course not.
      Philip Henslowe: Oh, oh, Mr. Fennyman. I think you might have hit upon something.

      --"Shakespeare in Love"

  • waa waaa (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lehk228 (705449) on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:58PM (#17585626) Journal
    waa waa we already paid so much we shouldn't have to follow the law and pay what we agreed to. following the law is for other people not us.
  • 'Why would they want to have another $100 million or $50 million, whatever they are suing you tube, et al for. They don't want to sit down and talk about it. TWX thinks that the fans owe them something after we've paid them over FIVE billion dollars, helping TWX achieve a gross profit of 17 billion dollars. Cheers'

    p.s. if then need a new director, try Robert Rodriguez. As wonderful as the panoramic were, the funky way the actors were shot, not to mention the random acting, was pitiful.

  • by schwaang (667808) on Friday January 12, 2007 @10:03PM (#17585684)
    Slashdot karma be damned, but IMHO LOTR almost completely failed to capture that Tolkienesque feel that I get from reading the books.

    As a Tolkien fan, it could have been far far worse, and it was still an epic movie-making acheivement. I enjoyed the films for what they were. Seeing a cave troll was neat and all, but that over-the-top style, blaring music, and constant cgi-on-steroids action missed the finer points of Tolkien's sense of history and especially language. For god's sake man, let's hear a riddle or two!

    So I say let someone with a lighter touch try to capture the spirit of Tolkien on film for The Hobbit.
    • Yeah, me too. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Weaselmancer (533834) on Friday January 12, 2007 @10:40PM (#17586052)

      At the risk of making a "me too" post - me too.

      First off, we all know how corrupt the movie industry is, and I hope PJ nails those guys to the wall and gets his due. But that being said, I'd like to see someone else make The Hobbit. PJ made too many arbitrary changes to the story for me to truly enjoy his work. He's a brilliant director and makes lovely visuals, but shouldn't be doing the screenplays.

    • by cranos (592602) on Friday January 12, 2007 @10:49PM (#17586160) Homepage Journal
      Fine, you go and make the twenty-six three hour movies it would take to truly bring to life the Tolkien vision then ;)

      People are making the mistake of comparing the books and films in a literal sense. The movies were never going to be able to do full justice to the vision, however I believe they are the only ones so far that have come within a mile of doing that.

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by dangitman (862676)

      capture that Tolkienesque fee

      Is "Tolkienesque" a euphemism for "really terribly written"?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by JeffElkins (977243)
      Amen.

      I enjoyed the films and own the extended edition. That said, I was disappointed with Jackson's take. For me, the entire point of the book was the Scouring of the Shire and he left that out. I won't even go into how he butchered Frodo.
    • Yeah. Where's Tom Bombadill! I want dancing and singing for hours upon hours dammit!

      Anyway, you're comparing your own interpretation of Tolkien to Jackson's. It's Jackson's version of Tolkien's story, remember.

  • Gollum (Score:5, Funny)

    by nighty5 (615965) on Friday January 12, 2007 @10:11PM (#17585790)
    "They wants the precious for themselves, the stinking dirty thieving little Newline'ssss!"

  • Saul Zaentz, the producer that the Hobbit rights return to very soon, has already publicly announced that he could give a crap what New Line does, (he sued them for dough back in 2004...around the same time the cast sued them for dough) Peter Jackson will be directing the Hobbit when the rights return to him whether New Line tries to make a version on their own or not. Obviously this can't be guaranteed, but I don't think it would surprise anyone.
  • I've said it before, and will repeat it, despite being one of the biggest Tolkien fans out there, I will not go to see a Hobbit movie not done by Peter Jackson. Period.
  • MGM can fix this (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dracos (107777) on Friday January 12, 2007 @10:41PM (#17586084)

    New Line may have the production rights to The Hobbit, but MGM has the distribution rights. IT was MGM who approached New Line about doing the Hobbit movie(s), and MGM wants Jackson to direct. So does Saul Zaents.

    IIRC, production rights revert back to Saul Zaents some time this year if New Line has not legitimately begun production.

    Since MGM and New Line are partnering up to do the Hobbit (neither can do it alone, since the rights are split up), MGM could simply stall the process until New Line loses the production rights. Then MGM relicenses production from Zaents, asks Jackson to direct, and everyone is happy.

    Except the fans (who may have to wait a while longer for a "proper" Hobbit film to get done), and Bob Shaye, who will miss out on the preciousss profitses from the Hobbit. He simply needs to STFU and allow the audits of the LOTR films to happen.

  • by localman (111171) on Friday January 12, 2007 @10:47PM (#17586136) Homepage
    He thinks that we owe him something after we've paid him over a quarter of a billion dollars

    I like how the studio thinks the percentage that they agreed to pay him turned out to be "a lot" that they can reneg. And they keep throwing out this line about how much money he's made to kill people's sympathy for him. But, er, well, why should they get to keep the money? The fact is (at least from what I've read) is that they agreed to pay him on certain terms in the contract, and now they're whining because it was more successful than they expected. Which means they got more than they planned too. But the suits just don't like the idea of the grubby artist personally making so much.

    Screw you NewLine. Go Peter.

    And heck, I didn't even like the films that much.

    Cheers :)
  • by GaryPatterson (852699) on Friday January 12, 2007 @11:04PM (#17586282)
    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/10/30/60II/mai n527513.shtml [cbsnews.com]

    Stan Lee had a contract for a percentage of the profits of the films and merchandise, but the company didn't want to pay him. He sued and was awarded a cut of the profits.

    Not immediately relevant, but reminiscent.
  • Jackson just wants an audit of the payments for the second two movies. The studio wants to sit back and refuse. I sugget they are hiding something. Probably cooking the books.
  • No loss (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SideshowBob (82333) on Friday January 12, 2007 @11:19PM (#17586422)
    After what he and his writers did to Two Towers and Return of the King, I think the material might be better served by someone else.

    (Not that I'm holding out hopes of a Hollywood studio being able to find that person)

    Errors of omission are to be expected with such a long work, but completely altering some of the major themes of the two works is unforgivable.
  • talk about spin (Score:4, Informative)

    by lordsid (629982) on Friday January 12, 2007 @11:20PM (#17586432)
    This is total spin and should have never been posted on slashdot, my god.

    Here is a link [showbizdata.com] with a statement from the real owner of the Tolkien rights saying that Jackson will definitely do the Hobbit. The rights for the movies revert back to him sometime within the next year.

    This Shaye guy can sit on it and spin himself, greedy fuck.

    /feeling cynical tonight
  • an act of charity (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gijoel (628142)
    You know if New Line gave $250 Million to a hobo as an act of charity then I think this numbat would have a point. But they didn't. They gave it to Wingnut films, a business that they had signed a contract with.

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