It seemed, for a brief moment at least, Hollywood was a place of joy following the writers strike. The writers, the studios and even the agents all seemed to be getting along at last. However, it couldn't stay like that for long. Suddenly there has been a wave of high profile disagreements over contracts, profits and film rights.
Lawsuits have now begun to fly around like cocaine at a party held by the late Don Simpson (allegedly).
First up; the Tolkien Estate have called in the lawyers to see where their profit participation went on The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Secondly, Benedict Fitzgerald, co-writer of The Passion of the Christ sues Mel Gibson over his (alleged) fair share of that films profits.
Finally, 20th Century Fox have (allegedly) decided that they own the film rights to comic book Watchmen and they've called in the lawyers to stop Warner Bros moving ahead with the project.
Sheesh, what a week - allegedly ;-)
So, what does all this mean?
The main point of the New Line/Tolkien case is that potentially it could stop production on the upcoming Hobbit film. However, you have to think that by now New Line would have figured out that they can't hide the $6 billion dollars that they made form the Rings trilogy. Those guys are going to have to hire their accountants to start penning screenplays, as they are incredibly "creative".
I feel sorry for Benedict Fitzgerald, I really do. The guy slaves for years working on Mel Gibson's "passion" project and Mel (allegedly) gets him to give him a co-writing credit, lies to him by stating that the film will only cost between $4 and $7 million and therefore he can only be paid a limited amount of money and then, to make matters worse, the only proof that the guy has of this, is where The Passion of the Christ's budget is listed on Wikipedia. You know, Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, that anyone can write on. He really will need God on his side.
Then there's 20th Century Fox wanting a piece of the Watchmen movie... Maybe they misheard somebody and thought that they said X-Men - otherwise what have they been doing for the last fifteen or so years that the film has dragging itself through development hell?
These have to be some of the most bizarre lawsuits that I've seen in a while. I mean, New Line thought that the Tolkiens wouldn't miss $150 million? Fox didn't know that they owned a potential comic book franchise? And Fitzgerald thinks that quoting a source that a five year old can write on will gain him millions.
Only in Hollywood!
Sources: Variety, Hollywood Reporter and Access Hollywood