While it is not anything near the end of the line for the much discussed lawsuit between Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema over slicing up the profits of the The Lord of the Rings movies, Jackson has won an intermediate victory according to Variety. A federal judge awarded Jackson $125,000 and, more importantly, ordered New Line to get an outside vendor to search for documents related to the lawsuit that the judge and Jackson’s attorneys want New Line to turn over. New Line has three weeks to find a vendor.
This isn’t a ruling on the merits on Jackson’s belief that New Line’s (and Hollywood’s) accounting procedures screwed him out of millions of dollars (or whatever they use for money down in Kiwi-land.) Rather, the judge said that New Line destroyed documents or failed to search diligently for documents and emails that the court had ordered them to produce. He called their method for searching for subpoenaed documents “haphazard.” That’s lawyer talk for “didn’t do shit.” With the outside vendor searching for the records, Jackson may actually get New Line to turn over records that prove he should be at least three times richer than he already is, which is pretty damn rich.
Variety also noted that the Jackson/New Line lawsuit is especially interesting due to the current negotiations between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers. One of the key points of contention is a desire by the producers to change the residual rules. The writers feel that studio accounting is not transparent and making changes would allow the studios to pay six dollars to everyone involved in movie making no matter what the actual profits of the film.
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