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.Tweet
I think we'll get our LOTR land, eventually. Rivendell water ride? Check. Mines of Moria dark coaster? Check. Hobbiton village with shops and restaurants? Check. I'll be drinking Miruvor and eating Honey-cake for my second breakfast.
It would take a very special deal to get this done, and I just don't see it happening in our lifetime, even with this obvious roadblock cleared.
The movies inspired people to read or re-read the novels, which already had their own following.
But, if the rights reside with the Tolkien estate, then it will be 20 years down the road when the members of the Tolkien estate are one or two generations after Christopher Tolkien and the money from the franchise may have run low or may have to be spread out over a larger number of family members. At that point, the floodgates will open and we'll see a reboot of the movies and new lands in theme parks.
(And if I'm not in the Alzheimer's section of the nursing home, I'll pack up the Depends, head to the park, and rent me one of those electric scooters so I can run over obnoxious teenagers while racing to the queue.)
Flavio -- part of the fun of new attractions is seeing cutting-edge and existing technology come together in a way that defines a new experience.
That's the thing Tim, WB is already investing money right now to reboot LOTR. It's no secret that WB has been shopping around for a new creative team to launch another LOTR franchise, so barring some unknown legal hurdles, it's likely that we'll see another Middle Earth movie hit the big screens within the next 5 years or so.
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