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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 June 2007, 08:34 GMT 09:34 UK
Rings actors sue over merchandise
Poster for 'The Lord of the Rings', Shenzhen
The Lord of the Rings films were a worldwide box office success
Fifteen actors who appeared in The Lord of the Rings trilogy have sued film studio New Line in a dispute over money from the sales of movie merchandise.

The New Zealand actors claim New Line broke a contract to give them 5% of an estimated $100m (50m) profits from the sales of caps, games and other items.

The actors' lawyer, who filed the case in Los Angeles, said New Line wrongly took "gross participation" fees.

A New Line spokesman said the company did not comment on pending litigation.

Henry Gradstein, who is representing the actors, claimed "Hollywood accounting" had led to the discrepancy.

He maintained that "gross participation" and distribution fees swallowed up all of the profits owed to the actors.

Withheld profits

The Lord of the Rings film franchise has been hit by legal action in the past.

In 2005, director Peter Jackson's production company sued the films' distributor, claiming it had withheld profits, including revenue from DVD sales of the first instalment, 2001's The Fellowship of The Ring.

In the same year, New Line reached an out-of-court settlement with producer Saul Zaentz, who had held the rights to the JRR Tolkien book since 1976.

He sued the company for $20m (14.8m) in additional royalities which Mr Zaentz claimed he had not received.

The terms of the settlement were not made public.

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