London: JRR Tolkien’s only daughter has filed an 80 million dollar lawsuit against the producers of upcoming film series ‘The Hobbit,’ accusing them of exploiting the characters of Middle Earth to promote online gambling.
Priscilla Anne Reuel Tolkien, 83, has joined with her father’s British publishers to take on Warner Bros, the Hollywood giant behind the film remakes of the fantasy books, the Telegraph reported.
In the lawsuit filed in California, Tolkien and a coalition of UK companies allege the movie producers breached a 1969 contract that gave them the right to make toys and other merchandise but not video games.
They claim that the producers’ forays into “the morally questionable (and decidedly non-literary) world of online and casino gambling” had “outraged Tolkien’s devoted fan base, causing irreparable harm to Tolkien’s legacy and reputation and the valuable goodwill generated by his works.”
Tolkien’s suit alleges that the film companies only have the right to “tangible” merchandise like costumes and figurines, but had “engaged in a continuing and escalating pattern of usurping rights” by making digital products.
The last straw came when one of her lawyers received a spam email promoting an online slot machine game based on the ‘Fellowship of the Ring,’ the first book in the famous series.
Over the course of the 26-page lawsuit, published by the Hollywood Reporter, the plaintiffs claimed that the proliferation of Tolkien merchandise had created “confusion and consternation” among fans of the series.
One devoted fan called the merchandising a “nasty, greedy, ugly act” while another complained: “If this isn’t prostituting art, I don’t know what is.”
Tolkien is joined in her suit by the Tolkien Trust, a charity created shortly after her father’s death in 1973, and George Allen and Unwin, the publishers who first brought out ‘The Hobbit’ in 1937.