Understanding the Ruling in Peter Jackson's Lawsuit Against New Line

Kristin Thompson draws parallels between the PJ-NL lawsuit and the one filed by X-Files actor David Duchovny against 20th Century Fox back in 1999 – she classifies both lawsuits as “vertical integration” cases. (Read the 25th June 2005 NY Times article 'The Lawsuit of the Rings' for an understanding of this very interesting term in the context of the PJ-NL lawsuit). Duchovny was represented by lawyer Stanton Stein, one of the top specialists in such vertical integration cases - Fox and Duchovny later reached a settlement out of court.

In July 2005, Saul Zaentz, who was represented by Robert Schwartz, of O’Melveny & Myers, famously sued New Line. Zaentz and New Line also settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

Interestingly, Peter Jackson is being represented by lawyer Stanton Stein, and the legal team on his case is being headed by Robert Schwartz.

Kristin Thompson concludes on an encouraging note:

“My best guess is that Judge Hillman’s ruling will be the move that finally breaks the logjam. Sooner or later New Line will settle out of court with Jackson.

Would resentment make New Line cross Jackson permanently off the list of prospective directors for The Hobbit? I find it hard to believe. Fox didn’t fire Duchovny when they paid him the bulk of what he sued them for. They put him back to work.

This is business, and the firm’s executives know full well that Jackson’s name on The Hobbit would virtually guarantee its success. Another director might come up with a film that made nearly as much, but why take a chance? Where the bottom line is concerned, Hollywood companies can’t afford to hold resentments. Besides, MGM is co-producing the film and has said publicly that they want Jackson for it.

I’ve been predicting all along that there was a good chance that Jackson would end up directing (or at least producing) The Hobbit. I don’t see any reason to change my opinion. I’m just glad some progress has been made.”

Read Kristin THompson's blog entry 'Jackson vs. New Line: what’s the new ruling all about?'

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