Warner Bros. and J.R.R. Tolkien’s estate settle $80 million lawsuit

The debate surrounded a decades-old contract

Warner Bros. and the estate of Lord Of The Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien have settled an $80 million lawsuit over ‘digital exploitations’ of the Lord Of The Rings series and The Hobbit.

As Hollywood Reporter reports, the dispute began after J.R.R. Tolkien’s estate’s attorney received a spam e-mail about the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: Online Slot Game. The ensuing $80 million lawsuit focussed around other digital assets surrounding the franchise, from online games to housing developments, which the Tolkien Estate argued would cause ‘irreparable harm to Tolkien’s legacy’.

Futhermore, the estate claimed that a decades-old contract stated that the studio were permitted only to create “tangible” merchandise based on the books. The lawsuit was filed in 2012, with Warner Bros. filing a counter-suit and claiming that the original 1969 contract and a 2010 amendment both caused the studio to miss out on thousands of dollars in potential licensing for The Hobbit, and subsequently decreased exposure for the film series.


The terms of the settled agreement have not been shared publicly, though with the upcoming release of computer game Middle Earth: Shadow of War still on track, it seems a mutually beneficial settlement has been reached.

A spokesman for Warner Bros. stated simply, “The parties are pleased that they have amicably resolved this matter and look forward to working together in the future.”

Back in January, Lord Of The Rings cast-members enjoyed something of a reunion.

Dominic Monaghan, who played Meriadoc Brandybuck in Peter Jackson’s epic trilogy, shared pictures of himself hanging out at a restaurant with Orlando Bloom (Legolas), Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Billy Boyd (Peregrin Took) and Elijah Wood (Frodo Baggins).