New Line and Producer Zaentz "Ring" Out a SettlementVariety, Producer Saul Zaentz will receive about $20 million from New Line Cinema (on top of the $168 million he earned from the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy), thereby ending a lawsuit before it goes to trial. So that's nearly $190 million bucks for the 84-year-old Mr. Zaentz; not too shabby considering he didn't actually produce the "Lord of the Rings" movies.
Mr. Zaentz purchased the rights to the "Rings" back in 1976 (long before anyone imagined that a live-action movie could be made of the property), produced the oft-maligned Ralph Bakshi animated version, and then just let the property sit in the oven and cook for a few decades. And based on the numbers that the Zaentz estate has been pulling in, it seems pretty obvious that the canny producer snagged himself a sweet percentage deal once New Line got the green-light.
"In his lawsuit Zaentz claimed that New Line cheated him out of nearly $20 million by calculating royalties based on the net grosses it received from foreign distributors. Producer claimed he was entitled to royalties based on foreign distribs' gross receipts, an assertion the studio disputed."
Both sides state that the issue is now resolved, but New Line still has another legal battle on its hands; director Peter Jackson claims that his camp has been shorted some serious profits from DVD sales, merchandising, and video game tie-ins.