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Tolkien family sues moviemakers over merchandizing

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) – The family of late author J.R.R. Tolkien is suing the producers of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” movie trilogies for alleged exploitative merchandizing.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, comes a week before the premiere of the “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” in Wellington. The movie opens in U.S. theaters next month.

The estate of Tolkien is upset at what it calls “morally questionable” digital marketing including an online slot machine, according to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. The Tolkien estate is seeking $80 million from Warner Bros, its New Line subsidiary and rights holder Saul Zaentz Co.

The lawsuit contends a merchandizing agreement extends only to products such as figurines and clothing and not to electronic rights.

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