The Business Litigation Blog

Weinstein Brothers and Miramax Sue Warner Bros and New Line Cinema for Breach of Contract

Miramax, LLC recently filed a claim against Warner Bros and New Line Cinema over the film adaptation of the famous J.R. Tolkien adaptations of his Lord of the Rings series. While Miramax acquired the actual rights to Tolkien’s works and spent an initial $10 million on the film, the company eventually chose not to finance the $150 million project and it was taken over by New Line Cinema.

According to Miramax, the first 5% gross profit from the first of film of each book was supposed to be given to them as consideration for the transfer of rights to New Line. This agreement was drafted when the companies were under the impression that only one film would be made for each book in the series.However, as the third film on the Hobbit is now in theaters, Miramax claims that it is entitled to earnings from each of them.

The issue at play here is whether or not royalties from the films from the trilogy that were broken up into several parts and released as separate movies should be paid to the Weinstein brothers. While there was a clause in the initial agreement related to the fact that no money should be paid on a “remake” of a film, clearly these separate films cannot be considered remakes.

According to the plaintiffs, the three films based on “The Hobbit” all have the name “The Hobbit” in their title. They were written and filmed as parts of a whole and should be viewed in that way, not as separate films or remakes. According to the claim, the contract was written in 1998, before it had become popular for filmmakers to create movies based on separate parts of one book.

The Weinstein brothers are seeking $75 million in damages based on their claims, which in addition to the breach of contract claim highlighted in the above paragraphs, also include promissory estoppel and breach of implied covenant of good faith. The Weinstein brothers have requested that this be handled by an arbitrator. 

The Patterson Law Firm frequently deals with breach of contract cases. To learn more about the services we offer visit pattersonlawfirm.com or call 312.223.1699.

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