The producers of the upcoming Christmas blockbuster The Hobbit have pulled the trigger on that lawsuit against the producers of Age of the Hobbits, a direct-to-DVD “mockbuster” film starring Stargate SG-1‘s Christopher Judge.
As we reported a few weeks ago, Hobbit producers New Line Cinema, Warner Bros., and MGM had reached out to Global Asylum about similarities between the two films — and particularly the use of the term “Hobbit,” coined by J.R.R. Tolkien in his 1937 novel.
But the film’s production studio claims that their story is based on a real-life tribe of people recently discovered in Indonesia, dubbed Homo Floresiensis and referred to ubiquitously in archaeology literature as “Hobbits.” The film’s title could thus be construed as in accordance with the legal doctrine of fair use.
The plaintiffs are asking the court to bar Asylum from using the term “Hobbits” and to order all infringing ad materials and packaging destroyed.
Asylum’s business model seems to be based on capitalizing on big-screen films, and their promotional engines, for some name recognition. When facing similar legal challenges in the past, Asylum has altered film titles and packaging art — such as with the release earlier this year of American Warships, which was originally titled American Battleship and sported a cover design quite similar to the Universal/Hasbro film Battleship.
Despite repeatedly being slapped on the hand for its practices, Asylum appears to benefit even from the controversy — with news coverage about the dispute from Web sites (like this one).
Read the full story at The Hollywood Reporter. Age of the Hobbits (or whatever it ends up titled) hits the shelves on December 11.
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Darren created GateWorld in 1999, and today is the owner and managing editor. He lives in Scotland with his wife and two children. (More)