For the second time this year, the brothers Weinstein are in a legal dispute with the brothers Warner.
Harvey and Bob Weinstein and Miramax, the studio they founded and later sold, have sued Warner Bros., saying they are entitled to a share of the revenue from the second and third films in the "Hobbit" series, based on the book by J.R.R. Tolkien.
This comes after the two companies came to blows this year over the title of the historical drama that was eventually dubbed "Lee Daniels' The Butler."
In a complaint filed this week in New York, the Weinsteins and Miramax said they are seeking more than $75 million in damages. While the plaintiffs say they should get a cut of all three "Hobbit" movies, Warner says they agreed to share money only from the first one.
The Weinsteins and Miramax collected about $25 million from 2012's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey." The sequel "Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" opens this weekend and "Hobbit: There and Back Again" comes out in 2014.
"This is about one of the great blunders in movie history," said a Warner Bros. spokesman, in a statement. "15 years ago Miramax, run by the Weinstein brothers, sold its rights in 'The Hobbit' to New Line. No amount of trying to rewrite history can change that fact. They agreed to be paid only on the first motion picture based on The Hobbit. And that’s all they’re owed.”
New Line Cinema, now a part of Warner Bros., bought the rights to Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy and "The Hobbit, or There and Back Again" in 1998. In the sharing agreement between the companies, the parties agreed that Miramax and the Weinsteins should get 5% of the revenue from the "first motion picture, if any."
However, the plaintiffs argue that Warner Bros. cut them out of their fair share by deciding to split the "Hobbit" saga into three movies and that the agreement excluded only remakes.
"Warners' refusal to acknowledge Plaintiffs’ participation rights is nothing more than a shallow attempt to deprive Plaintiffs of their fair and previously agreed to share of revenue from Warner’s exploitation of The Hobbit book," they said in the complaint.
Warner Bros. filed for arbitration in the dispute in late November.
This summer, Warner Bros. tried to stop the Weinstein Co. from using the name "The Butler" for its film that starred Forest Whitaker as a man who served for decades in the White House. Warner said it had the rights to the title because of a 1916 short film called "The Butler."
The issue was resolved when the Motion Picture Assn. of America said TWC could use the name "Lee Daniels' The Butler."
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