The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is bound to make a ton of money, and one Hollywood bigwig seems determined to get a cut of it.
The last Hobbit film, An Unexpected Journey, grossed more than $1 billion worldwide, and a significant cut of that (more than $10 million) went to former Hobbit rights owners and former Miramax heads Harvey and Bob Weinstein -- producers of hits like Pulp Fiction and Shakespeare In Love -- who were set to make the Lord of the Rings films at Miramax once upon a time, before Peter Jackson finally took his first Middle-earth project to New Line. Now, New Line is owned by Warner Bros., and the Hobbit franchise is being produced by Warner Bros. and MGM, but that hasn't stopped the Weinsten brothers from reaping a significant cut of the franchise so far. They got an estimated 2.5 percent of the box-office gross of An Unexpected Journey, and now they seem poised to go after the second installment in the series, The Desolation of Smaug.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, some "nasty letters" have been exchanged between the studio that produced the Hobbit franchise and Harvey Weinstein, who is apparently claiming that he's owed just as much of a percentage for Desolation of Smaug as he was for An Unexpected Journey. Warner Bros. and MGM, on the other hand, claim that the Weinstens were only entitled to money from the first Hobbit film, not any subsequent films.
At the moment, no official legal action has been taken, but the Weinsteins are reportedly mulling a lawsuit in a search for their cut of the remaining Hobbit profits. Right now, we don't know exactly what they'll do, but with a third Hobbit film on the horizon, it wouldn't be surprising to see a legal battle looming.