Movie moguls Bob and Harvey Weinstein have been ordered to meet with an arbitrator in their $75 million (£46.9 million) legal battle over profits from The Hobbit film franchise in a bid to settle the case out of court.
The Weinstein brothers filed suit against executives at New Line Cinema Corporation, part of the Time Warner brand, in December (13), claiming they were owed money from the success of the fantasy series as a result of a rights agreement they signed in 1998.
The deal stipulated that New Line bosses would pay the producing duo five per cent of gross receipts for the rights to the "first motion picture" from the J.R.R. Tolkien novel, directed by Peter Jackson, as the brothers had already made a $10 million (£62.5 million) investment in the film adaptation.
However, the Weinsteins claim the defendants then decided to turn The Hobbit into a trilogy and are now refusing to pay them their cut of profits from the second and third instalments of the franchise.
They wanted the case to be heard in open court and refused to enter into talks with an arbitrator, but last week (ends14Feb14), New York Judge Eileen Bransten has shut down their request in favour of having the two parties enter dispute resolution talks first, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The first instalment, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, hit cinemas in 2013 and grossed over $1 billion worldwide, and the follow-up, The Desolation of Smaug, has banked over $860 million (£537.5 million) since its release in December (13).
The third movie, There and Back Again, is scheduled to hit theatres at the end of this year (14).