Harvey Weinstein: "The Butler" dispute is over "Hobbit"
Harvey Weinstein has accused Warner Bros. of ''bullying'' him over rights to 'The Hobbit'.
The Hollywood producer's film studio, The Weinstein Company, recently lost a court battle regarding the name its new Lee Daniels-directed drama 'The Butler' because Warner Bros. claims it has the rights to the moniker - stemming from a 1916 short film of the same name which it owns - and Weinstein alleges the blockade is over a much more lucrative franchise.
The Weinstein Company owns a small but highly profitable 2.5 per cent stake in Warner Bros.' billion dollar-grossing 'The Hobbit' movies and the rival studio reportedly doesn't want to share its riches.
Speaking on US TV show 'CBS Morning Show' yesterday (09.07.13), he said: ''My dad taught me to fight injustice. This is unjust. This movie is coming out August 16. I was asked by two execs at Warner Bros., which I'm happy testify to, that if I gave them back the rights to 'The Hobbit' they would drop the claim. For a 1916 short? This was used as a bullying tactic.''
The producer went on to claim his company had an agreement with Warner Bros. over 'The Butler' - as many Hollywood studios do - but the rival studio had an ''ulterior movie'' and reneged on its deal.
He added: ''Our understanding with them was that this was just going to be the simple process that it always is. Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy have a movie out called '[The] Heat'; Jason Statham is shooting a movie called 'Heat'; Bob DeNiro and Al Pacino made a movie called 'Heat', and ten years before that Burt Reynolds made a movie called 'Heat'.
''[Warner Bros] told us they were going to do the normal thing, the normal business they practice, and I think there's an ulterior motive.''
'The Butler' is based on the real-life story of the White House's longest serving African-American butler, Eugene Allen.
The Oscar-tipped movie boasts an all-star cast including Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, as well as the likes of Robin Williams, James Marsden and Alan Rickman portraying former United States presidents.