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Re: [mythsoc] Re: To Hobbit or not To Hobbit?

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  • John D Rateliff
    ... I also did not know about the percentage, though there have been a number of references in passing over the last few years about the Estate receiving
    Message 1 of 13 , Feb 12, 2008
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      On Feb 12, 2008, at 7:19 AM, David Bratman wrote:

      > William Cloud Hicklin <solicitr@...> wrote:
      >> It's very straightforward, really: When JRRT sold the rights to
      >> United Artists in 1969 (the only sale of film rights) he received
      >> cash on the nail *and* a percentage.
      >
      > I do not recall having ever read about this percentage before.
      > Sources say that Tolkien sold the film rights outright, instead of
      > selling an option (in which the producers have a set period of time
      > to commence making the film, in the absence of which the rights
      > revert). To say that the rights were sold outright gives the
      > impression that no additional money, e.g. a percentage, is owed,
      > and indeed most writings on the subject tend to imply that although
      > the payment seemed large at the time, Tolkien got rooked.

      I also did not know about the percentage, though there have been a
      number of references in passing over the last few years about the
      Estate receiving substantial amounts of money from the films;
      presumably these shd have instead been about the Estate's being DUE
      subst. amounts &c.
      The various news reports posted here, and those linked to them,
      give a pretty full picture of the Estate's case, including the
      specific percentage, and a lot of interesting details besides. The
      only earlier evidence I cd find on a quick search is the following
      from Rayner Unwin's memoir (which Kristin Thompson's book pointed me
      toward). In his discussion of selling film rights for THE HOBBIT, he
      says that a contract with Rembrandt Films was ready in 1962 but had
      to be renegotiated because of the unsettled status of the copyright,
      and that in the end it went for a $15,000 advance "and a share of
      any profits earned in countries that were signatories of [the] Berne
      [Convention] . . . Over the next few years instalments of the advance
      arrived from Rembrandt" until a script was finished "at the end of
      1964", at which point the project seems to have lapsed. "ultimately
      [Rembrandt] were bought out by United Artist as part of a complex
      deal that was eventually signed in 1969 for THE LORD OF THE RINGS,
      with an option on THE HOBBIT". He describes the fifty-page contract
      with United Artist as "a complicated and ambiguous document"
      requiring some two years to negotiate (GEORGE ALLEN & UNWIN--A
      REMEMBRANCER, pages 109-110, 129-130).


      > If the Estate is owed a percentage by the contract, then that makes
      > far more serious the case of the Rankin-Bass "Return of the King",
      > which was made without authorization on the (dubious) grounds that
      > it was based on the (supposedly) out of copyright first edition. I
      > had always presumed that little fuss was made over that because the
      > rights had already been sold, so making an unauthorized film took
      > no money out of the Estate's pocket. But if the Estate was owed a
      > percentage, then it did.

      I've always presumed that since this bombed it wasn't considered
      enough of a threat to be worth undertaking a major lawsuit over,
      especially given the fact that the status of the copyright at that
      time was uncertain. Who knows how such a case wd have come out? Now I
      think they'd be in a much stronger position if they wanted to stop
      sales of the dvd (which was only released after the Jackson films
      revived interest in adaptations of JRRT's story).

      --JDR
    • Merlin DeTardo
      ...
      Message 2 of 13 , Feb 12, 2008
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        --- John D Rateliff <sacnoth@...> wrote:
        << In [R. Unwin's] discussion of selling film rights for THE HOBBIT,
        he says that a contract with Rembrandt Films was ready in 1962 but
        had to be renegotiated because of the unsettled status of the
        copyright, and that in the end it went for a $15,000 advance "and a
        share of any profits earned in countries that were signatories of
        [the] Berne [Convention] . . . Over the next few years instalments
        of the advance arrived from Rembrandt" until a script was
        finished "at the end of 1964", at which point the project seems to
        have lapsed. >>

        Apparently Rembrandt Films (William Synder) did produce and publicly
        exhibit (just once) a cheap, short animated film of _The Hobbit_ in
        1966, to retain its option until the rights could be sold back to
        Tolkien. The animator Gene Deitch discusses his work on the project
        here:

        http://genedeitch.awn.com/index.php3?ltype=chapter&chapter=22

        Deitch's site includes a few images that Jiri Trnka had prepared for
        a full-length version that was never made.*

        See also p. 21 of Scull and Hammond's _Reader's Guide_, which also
        quotes from the same passage in Unwin's "Remembrancer".

        Has anyone here seen this first film version of _The Hobbit_?

        -Merlin DeTardo


        *Thanks to Darkstone at TheOneRing.net for bringing Deitch's site to
        my attention:

        http://newboards.theonering.net/forum/gforum/perl/gforum.cgi?
        post=60880#60880
      • William Cloud Hicklin
        ... Back around the time Film I came out either The Economist or The Financial Times reported that Tolkien got a percentage above a certain sum, on top of IIRC
        Message 3 of 13 , Feb 12, 2008
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          --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "Merlin
          DeTardo" <emptyD@...> wrote:
          >


          Back around the time Film I came out either The Economist
          or The Financial Times reported that Tolkien got a
          percentage above a certain sum, on top of IIRC $250,000 US-
          which meant he only realised $10,000, the other 96% going
          to the Inland Revenue.

          However I had believed it was a profits percentage, and
          therefore worthless.



          going to > --- John D Rateliff <sacnoth@> wrote:
          > << In [R. Unwin's] discussion of selling film
          rights for THE HOBBIT,
          > he says that a contract with Rembrandt Films was
          ready in 1962 but
          > had to be renegotiated because of the unsettled
          status of the
          > copyright, and that in the end it went for a
          $15,000 advance "and a
          > share of any profits earned in countries that were
          signatories of
          > [the] Berne [Convention] . . . Over the next few
          years instalments
          > of the advance arrived from Rembrandt" until a
          script was
          > finished "at the end of 1964", at which point the
          project seems to
          > have lapsed. >>
          >
          > Apparently Rembrandt Films (William Synder) did
          produce and publicly
          > exhibit (just once) a cheap, short animated film
          of _The Hobbit_ in
          > 1966, to retain its option until the rights could
          be sold back to
          > Tolkien. The animator Gene Deitch discusses his
          work on the project
          > here:
          >
          > http://genedeitch.awn.com/
          index.php3?ltype=chapter&chapter=22
          >
          > Deitch's site includes a few images that Jiri
          Trnka had prepared for
          > a full-length version that was never made.*
          >
          > See also p. 21 of Scull and Hammond's _Reader's
          Guide_, which also
          > quotes from the same passage in Unwin's
          "Remembrancer".
          >
          > Has anyone here seen this first film version of
          _The Hobbit_?
          >
          > -Merlin DeTardo
          >
          >
          > *Thanks to Darkstone at TheOneRing.net for
          bringing Deitch's site to
          > my attention:
          >
          > http://newboards.theonering.net/forum/gforum/perl/
          gforum.cgi?
          > post=60880#60880
          >
        • David Bratman
          ... Um - what _are_ those ghastly things? Is that bird-lizard thing supposed to be Smaug? And what about the grinning shapeless whatever with the bird feet?
          Message 4 of 13 , Feb 12, 2008
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            Merlin DeTardo <emptyD@...> wrote:

            >Deitch's site includes a few images that Jiri Trnka had prepared for
            >a full-length version that was never made.

            Um - what _are_ those ghastly things? Is that bird-lizard thing supposed to be Smaug? And what about the grinning shapeless whatever with the bird feet? Is it an orc? Gollum? A Ringwraith imported from LOTR? Beorn halfway through changing shape?
          • WendellWag@aol.com
            Excuse me if I m replying to the wrong person. I can t figure out who s saying what here. I wish people would be more careful in showing what is being
            Message 5 of 13 , Feb 13, 2008
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              Excuse me if I'm replying to the wrong person. I can't figure out who's
              saying what here. I wish people would be more careful in showing what is being
              quoted and who said it.

              In a message dated 2/12/2008 11:37:47 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
              solicitr@... writes:

              Back around the time Film I came out either The Economist
              or The Financial Times reported that Tolkien got a
              percentage above a certain sum, on top of IIRC $250,000 US-
              which meant he only realised $10,000, the other 96% going
              to the Inland Revenue.
              What does Film I mean? Does this mean the first of the Jackson films? The
              top income rate in the U.K. is 40% and hasn't been 96% since at least the
              1970's. Is this talking about the money paid to Tolkien in 1968 when he sold
              the film rights to the books? According to everything I've read before,
              Tolkien got about $250,000 and didn't get any future percentages.

              Wendell Wagner





              **************The year's hottest artists on the red carpet at the Grammy
              Awards. Go to AOL Music.
              (http://music.aol.com/grammys?NCID=aolcmp00300000002565)


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • William Cloud Hicklin
              ... of the Jackson films? The ... been 96% since at least the ... Tolkien in 1968 when he sold ... everything I ve read before, ... future percentages.
              Message 6 of 13 , Feb 13, 2008
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                --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, WendellWag@...
                wrote:

                > What does Film I mean? Does this mean the first
                of the Jackson films? The
                > top income rate in the U.K. is 40% and hasn't
                been 96% since at least the
                > 1970's. Is this talking about the money paid to
                Tolkien in 1968 when he sold
                > the film rights to the books? According to
                everything I've read before,
                > Tolkien got about $250,000 and didn't get any
                future percentages.
                >


                By Film I I meant The Fellowship of the Ring, so the story
                appeared at the end of '01 or early '02. The top tax rate
                was indeed 96% in 1969, when JRRT sold the rights to UA,
                and so it's correct in a way to assert he got either a)
                $250,000 or b) $10,000. Both have been reported.

                Anyway, six years ago the press, quoting someone from
                HarperCollins, confirmed that there was a percentage deal
                in the contract.
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