United Artists is an American film studio (now owned by Metro-Goodwyn-Mayer) which purchased the film rights to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit from J.R.R. Tolkien in 1969. There is an apocryphal story that Tolkien sold the film rights for £10,000 in order to pay a tax bill, but he, in fact, sold the film rights for over £100,000 (£104,602) in order to replenish his dwindling finances through the rest of his retirement.
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.