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Jessica Beresford: The Hobbit spotlight turns sour


By Jessica Beresford

Published: 7:19AM Thursday November 22, 2012

As one of the year's most anticipated films, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is ramping up for the premiere that will see the world hone in on our wee capital city.

But among the aeroplanes and baggage terminals plastered with Hobbit holes and massively impressive statues of characters comes controversy surrounding the ethical grounds the movies have been built on.

It's fair to say this movie has now had more than its share of bad press - just a week out from the world premiere, producers of The Hobbit have been hit with allegations of animal cruelty from notoriously over-the-top campaigners PETA and tied in to a New York times article rubbishing New Zealand's 100% Pure campaign .

The latest sting comes from the Tolkien estate itself - claiming the producers of the films have breached copyright agreements by using characters in merchandising they are not entitled to.

This is mainly targeted at LOTR-themed gambling machines, which the lawsuit says causes "irreparable harm to Tolkien's legacy and reputation and valuable goodwill generated by his works".

These allegations come on top of a large pile of lawsuits the trilogies have faced since the release of the first film in 2001 - mainly to do with either side not getting their hands on money they were promised.

We can't know whose lap the blame lies in - whether the producers are overly flirtatious with pushing boundaries or the Tolkien family are tirelessly uptight about JRR's legacy.

What we do know is the relationship between the Tolkien estate and Warner has never been peachy. Grandson of the famed author Simon Tolkien recently spoke to the Telegraph of how the films ruined his family, likening the effect as "being hit by a juggernaut".

Let's just hope the money-grubbing politics can be brushed aside so we can actually enjoy the films for what they are at their best - Tolkien's imaginative tales of Middle Earth.

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