I have Peter Jackson’s response today to New Line’s Bob Shaye telling SCI FI Wire that the studio won’t work with the Lord of the Rings franchise director on the proposed movie based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, or any other film. Ever. “I do not want to make a movie with somebody who is suing me. It will never happen during my watch.” Shaye said this and more in an interview on January 5th while promoting the film he’s directed, The Last Mimzy. Shaye’s comments included personal attacks on Jackson, calling him “arrogant… misinformed… myopic…” Shaye also said he was “offended” that many of the Rings trilogy actors “suddenly, because, I’m guessing, of Peter’s complaint,” have declined to participate in celebrating New Line’s 40th anniversary. And Shaye, who himself is obscenely wealthy, kept making a big deal about “the quarter of a billion dollars” paid to Jackson already for the Rings trilogy.
But here’s what Peter Jackson says:
“Our issue with New Line Cinema has only ever been about their refusal to account for financial anomalies that surfaced from a partial audit of The Fellowship of the Ring. Contrary to recent comments made by Bob Shaye, we attempted to discuss the issues raised by the Fellowship audit with New Line for over a year but the studio was and continues to be completely uncooperative. This has compelled us to file a lawsuit to pursue our contractual rights under the law. Nobody likes taking legal action, but the studio left us with no alternative. For over two years, New Line has denied us the ability to audit The Two Towers and The Return of the King, despite repeated requests. Film auditing is a common and straightforward practice within the industry and we don’t understand why New Line Cinema has taken this position. In light of these circumstances, I didn’t think it was appropriate for me to be involved in New Line Cinema’s 40th Anniversary video. I have never discussed this video with any of the cast of The Lord of the Rings. The issues that Bob Shaye has with the cast pre-date this law suit by many years. Fundamentally, our legal action is about holding New Line to its contractual obligations and promises. It is regrettable that Bob has chosen to make it personal. I have always had the highest respect and affection for Bob and other senior management at New Line and continue to do so.”