THE heirs of late author JRR Tolkien are suing the producers of The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies over what they say is exploitative merchandising.
The lawsuit, filed in US District Court in Los Angeles, comes a week before the premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in Wellington, New Zealand.
The opening film in the trilogy, which stars Martin Freeman, hits world cinemas next month.
The estate of Tolkien is upset at what it calls "morally questionable" digital marketing including an online slot machine, according to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.
The Tolkien estate is seeking $80m (€62.7m) from Warner Bros, its New Line subsidiary and rights holder Saul Zaentz Co.
Warner Bros declined to comment on the claims.
Tolkien's family says a merchandising agreement extends only to tangible products such as figurines and clothing and not to electronic rights.