United Artists (an MGM company) purchased the rights to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit from J.R.R. Tolkien for an estimated $10,000. Tolkien is said to have parted with the rights so he could pay off a tax bill. United Artists then sold most of the film rights to Saul Zaentz. The company then distributed Ralph Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings to theaters. The company had originally planned to produce John Boorman's The Lord of the Rings. United Artists still holds the distribution.