Harvey Weinstein: "The Butler" dispute is over "Hobbit"

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Based on a Washington Post article written by Wil Haygood, titled "A Butler Well Served by This Election", this bio-drama tells the story of Eugene Allen, a black man who served as a White House butler for 34 years, 8 presidents and had a unique front row seat as political and racial history was being made.
July 10th, 2013

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.