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Hollywood studio Warner sued over 'Hobbit' profits

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch arrives for the Los Angeles premiere of 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,' on December 2, 2013 at the TCL Chinese IMAX Theater in Hollywood, California
Actor Benedict Cumberbatch arrives for the Los Angeles premiere of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," on December 2, 2013 at the TCL Chinese IMAX Theater in Hollywood, California

Studio giant Warner Bros accused Hollywood producers Bob and Harvey Weinstein of "trying to rewrite history" on Wednesday by suing for a share of profits from the blockbuster "Hobbit" movies.

The Weinstein brothers filed a lawsuit against New Line and Time Warner seeking $75 million in damages over the companies' decision to split "The Hobbit" into three films, but only paying the Weinsteins for the first movie.

"This case is about greed and ingratitude," the Weinsteins said in the lawsuit, filed in New York, according to industry journal Variety.

The Weinsteins said they invested $10 million in developing "The Hobbit," when New Line acquired the rights in 1998 and agreed to pay five percent of the profits from the first film to the brothers.

But Warner Bros said in a statement that the Weinsteins, owners at the time of Miramax, had simply made a bad deal.

"This is about one of the great blunders in movie history," said a statement emailed to AFP by Warner Bros spokesman Paul McGuire.

"Fifteen years ago Miramax, run by the Weinstein brothers, sold its rights in 'The Hobbit' to New Line. No amount of trying to rewrite history can change that fact," it added.

Warner Bros say the Weinsteins were entitled to a share of the first movie, which made $1 billion worldwide, but not to the two sequels.

"They agreed to be paid only on the first motion picture based on The Hobbit. And that's all they’re owed," said the studio's statement.

The legal battle comes as "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," the second movie in the trilogy after last year's "The Hobbit: an Unexpected Journey," is released around the world.

The final part of the series by New Zealand director Peter Jackson, "The Hobbit: There and Back Again," is due for release in December 2014.

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