Could theme park fans be a step closer toward a Lord of the Rings land?
The studio that made the Lord of the the Rings
and The Hobbit
films has settled a lawsuit filed by the estate of late author J.R.R. Tolkien.
The $80 million suit, filed in 2012, alleged that Warner Bros., its subsidiary New Line, and the Saul Zaentz Co. breached their contracts and violating the copyright held by the estate and publisher Harper Collins. The dispute focused on ancillary licensing deals by Warner Bros. for Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit IP.
Those ancillary rights were over things such as video games and slot machines — not theme park developments — but so long as all parties were litigating all that other stuff, no deal for a theme park land possibly could get done.
The parties involved filed on June 29 a stipulation to dismiss the suit "with prejudice as to all parties, " which is legalese meaning that no one can come back and re-file the suit at a later date. Which means... and I apologize for this...
So will this mean that Warner Bros. is now free to negotiate a licensing deal to develop a theme park land based on these enduring franchises? We don't know, since neither party is talking about whatever they decided amongst themselves on the way to dismissing the lawsuit.
Maybe they decided that Warner Bros. can license some things but not others. Or that Warner Bros. can do whatever it wants, provided it writes a bigger check to the estate. Or that Warner Bros. is just going to ignore LOTR for a while as it works to put together that big Wonder Woman/Harry Potter crossover that will allow it finally to pass up Marvel and Disney.
Okay, probably not that last one.
But we do know this: Any plans for a Lord of the Rings/Hobbit theme park land were dead and buried as long as that lawsuit was in play. Now, there's at least a chance that Warner Bros. could move forward with a theme park development. It still might not happen, but it's more likely now that it was a month ago.
This would be a great anchor for Universal's 4th gate in Orlando. Combined with extensions of the Harry Potter, Nintendoland, and Jurassic Park (world) IP, and quite a park could be brewing!!
I would not be surprised if universal has already entered negotiations to acquire the theme park rights for its parks
I would love to visit a Lord of the Rings area. Tour the shire. Eat some lembas bread. Get chased by a balrog. Sounds like a good theme park addition.
It's a fascinating idea, and I'd love to see it happen. Universal does seem more likely given their track record.
I would assume the Estate would require theme park rights to be negotiated separately from movie and merchandise rights. That was their original concern that their rights were taken for granted. Universal would seem to be the best choice of a developer. There's a ton of loose IP just waiting for the right company to take on.
I agree with DBCooper, this would be the anchor for the 4th gate. I cannot see Universal using it at either USF or IoA as it would compete with Potter. My crystal ball is saying Universal, a new park, Orlando, parcel bought end of 2015 down I-drive.
I can see them converting the lost continent and that area into it, you could easily make that area look a bit like Minas Tirith, or even Erebor I don't want them to, I want a new world(s) for it, (that would actually get me to book another trip) but combining that with a fourth gate and linking the two (ala Harry Potter worlds)
Lord of the RIngs, Fantastic Beasts , DreamWorks , Jurassic World .
That's exactly what I was going to say, DBCooper! This new possible new park would be great, and could take Universal to the next level! So many great IPs, and such a large space! I'm excited, though that is still gonna take a while.
As long as Christopher Tolkien is in charge of the family enterprises, it will never happen for any price. The question will be what will happen when a new ownership runs the family trust, but it would not surprise me in the least if there were not some prohibitions now that they have full control. The legal settlement will make it harder, not easier, as the family, with one exception has been extremely critical of all films, games, and adaptations. From what I have read only a strict interpretation is acceptable, and a theme park would be the last thing they would want. I could be wrong, and the information I read could have been posturing for the ongoing legal battles.
Spoiled brats. Must be nice, having a never-ending income just because your grandfather wrote great books.
If the family didn't want to make additional money on the IP, they never would have licensed it out to make the movies. As Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley have proven, Universal can keep things extremely strict in its interpretation of source material.
Just because this lawsuit is settled, I don't think it brings us any closer to LOTR coming to a theme park setting. The Tolkien family still controls the strings on the IP, and with the six (6) Peter Jackson films fading quickly into the past, the price parks would be willing to pay to use LOTR will continue to decrease, while Christopher Tolkien will take any future application of his father's works to his grave. WB has a decent chance of re-imagining the series, and is reportedly in the process of searching for creative teams to reboot the franchise (though I don't know of any director that would put the level of detail or passion into it than Jackson did). Clearly any Western theme park would want to use the Jackson version of the IP because of the immense popularity of his films, but WB may not be interested in competing with a new visualization of Tolkien's world on the drawing board.
Tolkien estate utterly insufferable snobs about "authenticity" regarding their little fairy tale of elves and orcs.
From what I understand, the family did not license it, the Saul Zaentz Co. is how the lisencing came to Warner Brothers. All that was done a long time ago before the books were popular at all. The rights to the Hobbit was even more messed up. The interesting thing about the family is that they could make a lot more money but chose not to, apparently due to the wishes of Tolkien, and that Christopher is very protective of the works and highly dislikes the movies and how they changed the spirit of the novels. You never know, of course.
Christopher Tolkien is 92 years old, he won't control the rights forever.
If the Saul Zaentz Co and/or Warner Brothers managed to get the theme park rights included in the settlement, then we'll see a LOTR/Hobbit land in a theme park somewhere soon, most likely Universal.
There is no technology today to make a decent LOTR theme park...
Tim -- your last paragraph cracked me up. You, like myself, are a true die-hard theme park fan.
"At that point, the floodgates will open and we'll see a reboot of the movies and new lands in theme parks."
A lot of people are talking Universal, but with the amazing job Disney did with Pandora, I would love to see Middle Earth placed inside Disney's Animal Kingdom. It would be perfect to have a mashup of Rivendell, Mordor, The Shire and the Lonely Mountain placed in between Pandora and Africa. Knowing Disney, they would do it justice.
A reboot?? Oh brother. No way they'll be as good as the Peter Jackson movies.
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