The Tolkien Trust is a registered charity and has made grants to charitable causes totalling moer than $8m over the last five years. The first Lord of the Rings film was released in 2001 and years of legal argument about the share of the profits are set to be heard in court during the coming weeks.
Mr Maier said: “The litigation process is moving swiftly forward with the trial due to commence in Los Angeles on Monday, October 19. It is expected to last for several weeks.”
The plaintiffs include Priscilla Tolkien, a trained social worker, and her brother Christopher, 84, who acts as literary editor for the Tolkien estate.
The action is being taken with publishers HarperCollins.
Tolkien, a professor at Oxford University who died in 1973, received £153,000 from United Artists when he signed over the film rights in 1969. It is understood the case will centre on those terms.
Time Warner, New Line’s parent company, last night declined to comment.
Bonnie Eskenazi, the trustees’ US counsel who originally filed the complaint, earlier said: “New Line has brought new meaning to the phrase ‘creative accounting.’ “It will be certainly interesting to see how on Earth New Line can argue to a jury that these films could gross literally billions of dollars and yet someone entitled to a share of gross receipts gets not a single penny.
“Should this case go all the way through trial, we are confident that New Line will lose its right to release The Hobbit.”
The film is already in pre-production in New Zealand, and is expected to be released at the end of 2011.