Rings actors settle lawsuit over royalties

A group of Kiwi actors from the Lord of the Rings trilogy have settled out of court after they fought for a share of millions of dollars from sales of lunchboxes, T-shirts and other merchandise.

The 15 actors received royalty statements from New Line Cinema after appearing in various instalments of the movies and found that there was zero "net merchandising revenue" - despite big sales of popular movie paraphernalia.

Last year lawyer Henry Gradstein filed a suit in Los Angeles Superior Court to recover money the actors believed they were owed.

Based on one paragraph in their contracts, they believed they would receive 5 percent of "net merchandising revenue" split among all actors whose characters are portrayed on the merchandise.

New Line Cinema, however, said gross merchandising revenue apparently became "net merchandising revenue" after certain unexpected expenses were deducted.

Bruce Hopkins, who played Gamling, King Theoden's sidekick in the second and third Rings movies, told Lord of the Rings fan website theonering.net that as part of the settlement - agreed after consultations with the actors' agents - details could not be discussed.

"I will, however, put my neck on the line and say that the final settlement amounts are more in keeping with what was in the petty cash drawer at head office when the decision to settle was made."

A couple of actors "may be able to have a decent holiday this year" while most "will simply be able to buy some new board shorts, a couple of bottles of nice wine and maybe get a haircut in anticipation of their next role in a record-breaking global blockbuster", he said.

The actors involved in the case were: Hopkins, Noel Appleby, Jed Brophy, Mark Ferguson, Ray Henwood, William Johnson, Nathaniel Lees, Sarah McLeod, Ian Mune, Paul Norell, Craig Parker, Robert Pollock, Martyn Sanderson, Peter Tait and Stephen Ure.

The Dominion Post