The Path To 'The Hobbit' Is Now Free Of Legal Entanglements

And it's about damn time! With all of the comments from director Guillermo del Toro and producer Peter Jackson, not to mention the avalanche of rumors, it's been easy to forget that the adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" has been the victim of a legal dispute.

In February 2008, HarperCollins Publishers and the JRR Tolkien Estate jointly filed a lawsuit against New Line's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy relating to the deal under which the original rights-holders were to be paid for the films' box office intake. It's the sort of dispute which created a roadblock to the upcoming "Hobbit" movies being made, and it's a roadblock that's now been cleared. The parties have reached a settlement -- the particulars of which remain undisclosed -- which officially puts an end to the dispute (via

The end result? Everyone's all chummy now, at least in their official "we've worked everything out" statements. Christopher Tolkien, speaking for his father's estate, said "The Trustees regret that legal action was necessary, but are glad that this dispute has been settled on satisfactory terms that will allow the Tolkien Trust properly to pursue its charitable objectives. The Trustees acknowledge that New Line may now proceed with its proposed films of 'The Hobbit.'"

Warner Bros. President and CEO Alan Horn was similarly polite about it. "We deeply value the contributions of the Tolkien novels to the success of our films and are pleased to have put this litigation behind us. We all look forward to a mutually productive and beneficial relationship in the future."

Good to see that everyone's getting along again. Now, Mr. Jackson and Mr. del Toro, about those Bilbo casting rumors...

Were you still aware that this lawsuit was out there? Did you have any doubt about it being cleared up?