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How Did Harvey Weinstein Make Millions From the Lord of the Rings Series?

If you are a fan of the fantasy novel by the genius J.R.R. Tolkien, you would know that there’s more to the book series than just mythical creatures running around with a magical ring.

The Lord of the Rings films were supposed to be released by Disney through Miramax but they decided not to fund the film. New Line Cinema took on the job and payed $10 million in turnaround costs. Later on, a single film grossed over $2.9 Billion.

Who is Harvey Weinstein?

Harvey Weinstein is one of the two brothers who founded Miramax. He produced iconic movies like Pulp Fiction, Shakespeare in Love, Kill Bill, and many more.

Weinstein was born on March 19, 1952 in Queens, New York. His grandparents immigrated to the US from Poland. He graduated from John Bowne High School and then attended the State University of New York. (Source: USA Today)

He and his brother Bob independently produced concerts under their company; Harvey & Corky Productions. They were able to book big names like Frank Sinatra, The Rolling Stones, and Jackson Browne.

By the 1970s the Weinstein brothers then used the money they earned from the concert promotions to start an independent film distribution company called Miramax, named after their parents; Miriam and Max. (Source: Vanity Fair)

Needless to say, Miramax took off and has produced a lot of great films since then.

What is Weinstein’s Involvement in the Production of the LOTR Series?

Disney and Miramax were not completely sold on the idea of producing the trilogy. Instead, they let New Line Cinema produce the film with turnaround costs up to $10 million. The companies didn’t really want to put up a budget beyond the projected value of the film. (Source: Hollywood Reporter)

By the time the scripts were done. It was evident that Miramax could not produce the film on such a high budget. The Weinstein brothers suggested to cut the film into a single movie instead of three. Peter Jackson, the director, wanted to stay true to J.R.R. Tolkien’s work. (Source: Hollywood Reporter)

The first three movies worked with a budget of $281 million and gathered a total of $2.9 billion at the box office. This huge success convinced Harvey Weinstein to produce The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. (Source: Hollywood Reporter)

How Much Did The Hobbit Series Make?

The series had a huge budget and as assumed, it also earned a billions in the box office. On the first three weeks out, the first movie, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, had grossed about $826.6 million in worldwide sales. In about a month or so, the film reached its $1 billion milestone. The next two films: The Desolation of Smaug and The Battle of Five Armies earned $958.4 million and $956 million respectively. (Source: Statista)

The Controversy Behind the Film and the Producers

It was not clear if the Weinsteins had a deal to receive a cut from the planned sequels of The Hobbit. According to credible sources, Warners have a written deal with the Miramax founders that only covers the first installation of the trilogy. The brothers however believe that they deserve a cut from all three of the films. (Source: Hollywood Reporter)

It was quite a messy deal. A source who was pretty close to the parties said: “This is one of the most complicated arrangements in Hollywood history, but in success, it’s great for everyone.” (Source: Hollywood Reporter)

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