Nicholas Hoult in Tolkien
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Tolkien stars Hoult as the British author and Lily Collins as his wife Edith

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April 23, 2019 01:53 PM

J.R.R. Tolkien’s family is making it clear that they do not support an upcoming biopic starring Nicholas Hoult as the legendary author.

The Dome Karukoski-directed Tolkien, which chronicles The Lord of the Rings author’s formative years at school, is set for release next month.

But Tolkien’s estate issued a searing statement Tuesday declaring they had no part in making the film, and do not “endorse it or its content in any way.”

J.R.R. Tolkien
Haywood Magee/Getty

“The family of J.R.R. Tolkien and the Tolkien Estate are aware of the Fox Searchlight motion picture entitled Tolkien that is due for release in May 2019,” the estate said in a statement to PEOPLE.

“The family and the Estate wish to make clear that they did not approve of, authorize, or participate in the making of the film. They do not endorse it or its content in any way.”

PEOPLE has reached out to Fox Searchlight for comment.

Tolkien stars Hoult as the British author and Lily Collins as his wife Edith. The official synopsis from Fox Searchlight reads: “Tolkien explores the formative years of the orphaned author as he finds friendship, love and artistic inspiration among a group of fellow outcasts at school. This takes him into the outbreak of World War I, which threatens to tear the ‘fellowship’ apart. All of these experiences would inspire Tolkien to write his famous Middle-Earth novels.”

The family’s public denouncing of the film is not the first time they’ve made efforts to guard the late author’s legacy.

The estate, along with book publisher HarperCollins, filed an $80 million lawsuit against Warner Bros. in 2012 claiming that the studio’s Lord of the Rings online slot machines and other digital merchandising was copyright infringement and a breach of contract, according to Deadline.

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They settled the suit in 2017, with Warner Bros. saying in a statement that it was “amicably resolved” and that both parties “look forward to working together in the future,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Tolkien’s estate also issued author Steve Hillard a cease-and-desist letter in 2011 over his novel Mirkwood: A Novel About JRR Tolkien, which featured Tolkien as a character.

Lawyers claimed the novel “trivializes the name, personality and reputation of the late professor,” according to The Guardian, though the two parties later reportedly settled without a lawsuit.

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Tolkien’s son Christopher has previously expressed his frustration with his father’s legacy, saying in 2012 that the relentless commercialization of his father’s novels “has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing.”

“Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed the absurdity of our time,” he told French newspaper Le Monde, as translated by the Guardian.

A Lord of the Rings series is coming soon to Amazon, and cost the company an estimated half a billion dollars, according to Reuters.

A large chunk of that change went to the rights alone, which reportedly cost the studio $250 million.

The film opens May 10 in select theaters.

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