Film studio The Asylum makes some of the “worst” films around, most of which try to capitalize on the popularity of other legitimate box office successes. Snakes on a Train, Transmorphers, Sunday School Musical, Abraham Lincoln VS Zombies… Yeah, originality isn’t that big over at Asylum (well, except when they’re producing such amazing concepts as Mega Shark Versus Crocosaurus).
So it came as no surprise when they got sued earlier in the year for ripping off Peter Berg’s Battleship with their American Battleship. But it seems these mockbuster specialists haven’t learned their lesson yet. A lesson that Warner Bros, MGM and New Line would love to teach them again.
The “movie” that’s causing all the ruckus this time is Asylum’s Age of Hobbits, a title which obviously bears a rather striking similarity to highly anticipated J.R.R. Tolkien adaptation The Hobbit, something which those three studios and producer Saul Zaets has taken some offence to. The group filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles today to stop Asylum from using the word “hobbits”, a term obviously coined by and associated with Tolkien’s work, and to have all associated materials destroyed, as THR found out:
“The Asylum has been and is promoting and advertising its low-budget film using the confusingly similar and misleading title Age of the Hobbits, in an intentional and willful attempt (i) to trade on the popularity and goodwill associated with the Tolkien novels, the extraordinarily successful Lord of The Rings film trilogy, and the famous HOBBIT mark, (ii) to free-ride on the worldwide advertising campaign in connection with the forthcoming Hobbit films, and (iii) to divert customers and potential customers away from the Hobbit films.”
Clearly The Asylum have actually picked up on a few tricks since their last legal fracas, as they responded with this rather glib statement:
“Age of the Hobbits is about the real-life human subspecies, Homo Floresiensis, discovered in 2003 in Indonesia, which have been uniformly referred to as ‘Hobbits’ in the scientific community. As such, the use of the term ‘Hobbits’ is protected under the legal doctrines of nominal and traditional fair use. Indeed, a simple Google search of Hobbits and archaeology reveals dozens of articles containing the term “Hobbit(s)” in the title.”
Well played, Asylum. Complete bovine feces that will probably lose you the case, but well played.
The funny thing about all of this though, is that a quick look at the trailer for The Age of Hobbits (shown below) shows that it may look like a steaming dog turd, but it actually isn’t really copying anything other than the title of The Hobbit, meaning they could just have chosen another name and avoided this. Clearly though, that’s not how these people operate.
Here’s that trailer:
By Crom, is that Teal’C from Stargate? Damn, Chris Judge, I know times are tough and everybody needs a paycheck, but daaaaamn!