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Old 03-21-2013, 05:04 PM   #41
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I thought you guys might be interested in this mini update about the case. Food for thought.
http://www.bizjournals.com/losangele...s-tolkien.html

"Bonnie Eskenazi, the attorney for the Tolkien estate, called Warners' counterclaim “nothing more than an effort to sue the Tolkiens and HarperCollins for suing them. They are entirely without merit and are a classic example of studio ‘bullying tactics.’ The Tolkiens and HarperCollins filed this lawsuit in order to force WB and Zaentz to live within the boundaries of the contract to which they agreed. WB’s and Zaentz’s amended counterclaims are simply an attempt to punish the Tolkiens and HarperCollins for having the nerve to stand up to the studios and tell them that they can’t take more rights than were granted to them by contract. Luckily, the law protects people like the Tolkiens and HarperCollins from these kinds of intimidation tactics."

My respect for the Tolkien Estate is further reinforced.
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Old 03-21-2013, 05:38 PM   #42
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And to me, the crux of Warner's motives here, that they (poor dears) were unable to fully profit from Tolkien's works to their satisfaction, really exemplifies what I detest about the whole premise of the movies.
The books are seemingly worth nothing more than their title, a drawing point for the masses and their pocketbooks. Makes me glad I still haven't seen the TH film. Fight the power!
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Old 03-30-2013, 01:58 PM   #43
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The Tolkien Estate tries to get Warner's claim dismissed.
http://movies.yahoo.com/news/tolkien...050000711.html
"On Thursday, the estate asked a judge to dismiss Warners' move, saying the studio is attempting to dress up an inappropriate claim for malicious prosecution."
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Old 03-30-2013, 11:40 PM   #44
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My respect for the Tolkien Estate is further reinforced.
I second this motion.
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Old 05-17-2013, 07:03 PM   #45
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This is after all Saul Zaentz we're talking about- underhanded and sleazy even by Hollywood's non-standards.
Quite an understatement. On Zaentz's Wiki page, mention is made of him taking legal action against businesses in the UK that use the name "Hobbit" in any fashion. This is similar to the action taken against Shire Post Mint over the excellent LoTR/Hobbit/Silm. coins they produced several years back. Zaentz really is a bully, and I wish he would reunite with his master Morgoth, sooner rather than later...
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Old 05-18-2013, 07:32 AM   #46
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Quite an understatement. On Zaentz's Wiki page, mention is made of him taking legal action against businesses in the UK that use the name "Hobbit" in any fashion. This is similar to the action taken against Shire Post Mint over the excellent LoTR/Hobbit/Silm. coins they produced several years back. Zaentz really is a bully, and I wish he would reunite with his master Morgoth, sooner rather than later...
I feel like a broken record, but that sort of thing is exactly what I feared when all the movie-hype began flaring up prior to PJ's films. I never wanted Tolkien's works to be subjected to such indignities; modern marketing treats all artistic works equally as tools for profit. I don't particularly blame Zaentz, since I am certain whatever corporation with the movie rights would act much the same. It really is a shame though to see beloved books treasured less for intrinsic literary merit than for commercial potential.
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Old 05-18-2013, 01:21 PM   #47
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It seems unbelievable that they think they have rights to things that didn't exist at the time of the contract..
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Old 05-20-2013, 08:29 AM   #48
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I feel like a broken record, but that sort of thing is exactly what I feared when all the movie-hype began flaring up prior to PJ's films. I never wanted Tolkien's works to be subjected to such indignities; modern marketing treats all artistic works equally as tools for profit. I don't particularly blame Zaentz, since I am certain whatever corporation with the movie rights would act much the same. It really is a shame though to see beloved books treasured less for intrinsic literary merit than for commercial potential.
Zaentz has owned the movie rights since c. 1976 - and certainly sued various people long before PJ's films were a twinkle in PJ's eye.
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Old 05-22-2013, 02:53 PM   #49
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Zaentz has owned the movie rights since c. 1976 - and certainly sued various people long before PJ's films were a twinkle in PJ's eye.
Yes, if you recall years ago Zaentz sued Gary Gygax and Dungeons & Dragons over its use of the word "hobbit". D&D had to change the name of the game characters to "halflings".

It's also notable that Zaentz's music company managed to purloin all the publishing rights of Creedence Clearwater Revival. Zaentz sued John Fogerty (the leader of CCR and writer of all its hit songs) when Fogerty released a solo album. Zaentz in effect sued Fogerty for plagiarizing himself, which led Fogerty to write a song with the lyrics "Zanz can't dance, but he can steal your money."

Naturally, Zaentz sued Fogerty again for defamation of character.
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Old 05-23-2013, 11:41 AM   #50
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And what's really pathetic is the fact that Zaentz has made many times as much money off the movies as Tolkien's family, without having to lift a finger.


---------

Zaentz in effect sued Fogerty for plagiarizing himself

It was worse than that: Zaentz sued Fogerty for sounding like himself, on the grounds that Zaentz owned the IP rights to CCR's distinctive sound.
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Old 07-17-2013, 05:27 AM   #51
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In an update, the Estate tried to have the counter-claims dismissed, but this was denied, so both the suit and counter-suit are still going ahead:

http://www.deadline.com/2013/07/warn...olkien-estate/

Frankly I could never support the filmmakers in this situation. The Tolkien Estate is repeatedly accused of greedily resting on the spoils of the Professor's achievements but personally I believe they have every right to quibble in cases like this where it's not black and white as to where the rights lie.

I assume this is why there was never a video game released for "An Unexpected Journey"?

It may or may not be pretense but if the Estate is genuinely concerned about the legacy of Professor Tolkien's work I think their concern is understandable. We are always told that "the books are still there" but when marketing, merchandise and spin have obliterated the majority of discourse on the subject I can't complain if WB and Zaentz are taken to task. On Facebook the other day people who had Liked the "The Fellowship of the Ring" page (for the book, not the film) were requested for a favourite quote. Half must have been from the film. There may have been a time before the films when Tolkien enthusiasm had receded and our conversations might be more isolated, but surely that is preferable to having it drowned beneath a sea of fatuous nonsense.

Elrond told the Council "It would be better if the Three had never been." I believe the same of the films. It is hard to know what to do in hindsight. Professor Tolkien once wrote that "the spirit of wickedness in high places is now so powerful and so many-headed in its incarnations that there seems nothing more to do than personally to refuse to worship any of the hydras' heads..." (Letter 312)

It may seem pointless for me to come here and preach to the choir, as it were, and I realise that this is not really meaningful news on a front regarding lawsuits which don't really mean anything insofar as the texts themselves are concerned, but I wouldn't be here if Professor Tolkien's work wasn't so important to me, and the symptoms of its occlusion are correspondingly troubling. If these stories are at risk of becoming palimpsests in culture, rewritten in the public consciousness in a way where films and merchandising and lawsuits have largely obscured the true and valuable matter, then I feel like there must be some who take responsibility for keeping the flame alive.

Any remarks of this nature may similarly seem like an overreaction, and I don't lay the blame at the feet of individuals in Hollywood or elsewhere, because it's symptomatic of the wider (neoliberal?) disease which afflicts Western Culture. Nonetheless I feel the need to muster my courage and take Gandalf as an example (as Professor Tolkien referenced in the same letter): "it is not for us to choose the times into which we are born, but to do what we could to repair them". Professor Tolkien places these paraphrased remarks before discussing his frustration with the heads of the hydra, but perhaps in the spirit of optimism and determination this is rather the sentiment upon which to focus.
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Old 07-17-2013, 07:14 AM   #52
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My view on the lawsuits is no doubt colored by my antagonism toward the films, but I back the Estate.

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On Facebook the other day people who had Liked the "The Fellowship of the Ring" page (for the book, not the film) were requested for a favourite quote. Half must have been from the film. There may have been a time before the films when Tolkien enthusiasm had receded and our conversations might be more isolated, but surely that is preferable to having it drowned beneath a sea of fatuous nonsense.
You know, the prospect of more people getting to know the books through exposure to the movies was the one bright spot I saw in their making. I know there have been those who have come to know and love the books thanks to PJ and Co., but for one thing, it shouldn't have to be that way, and for another, I think those people are in the minority.

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Elrond told the Council "It would be better if the Three had never been." I believe the same of the films. It is hard to know what to do in hindsight. Professor Tolkien once wrote that "the spirit of wickedness in high places is now so powerful and so many-headed in its incarnations that there seems nothing more to do than personally to refuse to worship any of the hydras' heads..." (Letter 312)
I said the same many years ago, and was taken to task for my "extremism". I simply didn't want to see Tolkien's work brought to the level of the common Hollywood blockbuster, with the ever-present merchandising, marketing, and nearly inevitable (as we've seen) court proceedings. I wish PJ had found another pet project to bring to "life".
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Old 07-17-2013, 07:25 AM   #53
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Personally, I wish Ang Lee had made the films instead of Jackson. Though wishing be vain, as I am well aware.

I would rather have had beautifully made and psychologically plausible films than blockbusters. And I think I'd rather people discovered the Professor's work through a decent adaptation.

I was very much in favour of the films during the anticipation stages. Couldn't wait for them. Overall, though, I found them a pretty shoddy result after all the hype.
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Old 07-17-2013, 07:47 AM   #54
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It may or may not be pretense but if the Estate is genuinely concerned about the legacy of Professor Tolkien's work I think their concern is understandable. We are always told that "the books are still there" but when marketing, merchandise and spin have obliterated the majority of discourse on the subject I can't complain if WB and Zaentz are taken to task. On Facebook the other day people who had Liked the "The Fellowship of the Ring" page (for the book, not the film) were requested for a favourite quote. Half must have been from the film. There may have been a time before the films when Tolkien enthusiasm had receded and our conversations might be more isolated, but surely that is preferable to having it drowned beneath a sea of fatuous nonsense.

Elrond told the Council "It would be better if the Three had never been." I believe the same of the films.
If you mean the "Lord of the Rings" films only, I can't really agree, as with all their faults I think they're pretty decent films of their kind. Still- the main counter-argument to what you've said here is usually something along the lines of "hey, publicity, wider audience, yay" and I think there are some real problems with that- I mean, what couldn't you justify that way?
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Old 07-17-2013, 01:26 PM   #55
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I know there have been those who have come to know and love the books thanks to PJ and Co., but for one thing, it shouldn't have to be that way, and for another, I think those people are in the minority.

-I'm in that minority Inziladun-I was introduced to Tolkien through the (excellent... at least in cinematic terms) PJ lotr trilogy (which I still love) and have gone on to read and own LOTR, The Hobbit, The Sil, COH, The HOME, Letters, The HOTH, Uninished Tales, Tales from the Perilous realm, and more than a few ancillary Works such as The Atlas and Road to Middle Earth, its pretty safe to say Jackson turned me into a Tolkien Fan...but in the years since (especially since viewing that overlong, overblownrewrite of The Hobbit...Part One: An Unnessary Missfire) I've gradually come to view the films, and the related marketing with a less favourable eye, I'm definitely with the Estate on this one, and more and more do I feel Christopher's Comments in Le Monde are becoming a sad reality.

That said, I still think the LOTR trilogy are great films, and I can't fault them for introducing me to Tolkien (the Hobbit on the other hand...), but all the same I sincerely hope The Tolkien Estate never changes its posistion on marketing and future adaptations, the day when you can get your Feanor action figures free with a Big Mac is a day I do not ant to see.
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Old 07-17-2013, 03:13 PM   #56
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I'm in that minority Inziladun-I was introduced to Tolkien through the (excellent... at least in cinematic terms) PJ lotr trilogy (which I still love) and have gone on to read and own LOTR, The Hobbit, The Sil, COH, The HOME, Letters, The HOTH, Uninished Tales, Tales from the Perilous realm, and more than a few ancillary Works such as The Atlas and Road to Middle Earth, its pretty safe to say Jackson turned me into a Tolkien Fan...but in the years since (especially since viewing that overlong, overblownrewrite of The Hobbit...Part One: An Unnessary Missfire) I've gradually come to view the films, and the related marketing with a less favourable eye, I'm definitely with the Estate on this one, and more and more do I feel Christopher's Comments in Le Monde are becoming a sad reality.
I'm always gratified to see stories like yours.
Sadly though, what I mostly see is a pop-culture bent on the quick, easy entertainment that a flashy film provides, without much regard for anything that requires as much time and imagination as books. And without getting the real tale from them, what the mass audience gets is watered down and designed to sell. It seems there's a common pattern with today's movie industry, so much so that to my eyes there's little to distinguish one film from another. It's all about the money.
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Old 07-18-2013, 01:34 AM   #57
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Yes, I can see what you mean, and even though I would (probably) have never discovered Tolkien if it weren't for the films...I'm beginning to think his works have become too popular for their own good. I also post on a few other forums, and in recent months I've become annoyed by the trend of new members posting again and again about how awesome the films are, and how boring the books look in comparison (books they refuse to pick up because they assume the film cuts out all the boring bits and adds much needed action and toilet humour...)

Look on the bright side, there is no way The Tolkien Estate will sell the rights to The Silmarillion-that's one car crash we are spared from seeing.
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Old 07-30-2013, 06:02 AM   #58
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What is frustrating is that outside of places like this it is difficult, if not impossible, to hold any discourse about Professor Tolkien's work without the films rearing their head. I simply don't understand how these adaptations, just because they were popular, have somehow become grafted onto the source material as if they are all fundamentally the same thing, as if Professor Tolkien and Peter Jackson are somehow collaborators in a combined literary and cinematic vision, which is something Zaentz's countersuit would like to establish as well.

It really seems to happen a lot with "geek culture", though, doesn't it? Or maybe I should say "genre culture," or really anything that seems to attract the frothing hysteria of bored, comfortable Western people. Everything becomes indistinguishable: the source material, the adaptations, any merchandise, and their cultural presence in the shape of references, memes, catchphrases etc. It seems to be the same with things like Harry Potter or, as we've discussed elsewhere, "A Song of Ice and Fire", or comic-book superheroes. Sherlock Holmes might be another example. I find this to be a shame because it treats all of these things as one entity, so we can't talk about one without the other, at least in mainstream conversation. At least we have places like this as an alternative.

Imagine if we treated "canonical literature" this way, like if you mentioned Ninteen Eighty-Four everyone started thinking about John Hurt, or if you tried to talk about Great Expectations people started quoting lines from the various adaptations that weren't in the book. It'd be absurd, but that doesn't happen because adaptations of those kinds of texts haven't become somehow inextricably merged with the source material for whatever reason. There once was a time when I was very hostile towards the literary establishment for what I perceived as its snobbery, but these days I am as frustrated, if not more, with the cultural milieu surrounding 'popular fiction' or 'genre fiction' or however it should be described. It seems as if the overwhelming majority of enthusiasts couldn't care less if these texts are exploited into franchises which ultimately only serve a corporate interest, happily devouring the repurposed material which is chewed up and regurgitated by Hollywood and the like.

Again, I apologise if this comes across as pretentious or arrogant. There are just times when I feel extremely isolated and alien among a culture which seems to have completely different values to my own.
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Old 07-30-2013, 07:30 AM   #59
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What is frustrating is that outside of places like this it is difficult, if not impossible, to hold any discourse about Professor Tolkien's work without the films rearing their head.
I haven't been poking around any other forums in many years, so I'll have to take your word about the prevailing sentiments there. I wonder if the distinction of the Downs is due to the fact that it was begun a couple of years before the movies were released. I do (grudgingly) credit the movies though, for apparently drawing people to this place in the buildup to the films' release. Many seem to have been only interested in the films, but some have been thoughtful, well spoken individuals who have brought a lot of valuable contributions here over the years.

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Everything becomes indistinguishable: the source material, the adaptations, any merchandise, and their cultural presence in the shape of references, memes, catchphrases etc. It seems to be the same with things like Harry Potter or, as we've discussed elsewhere, "A Song of Ice and Fire", or comic-book superheroes. Sherlock Holmes might be another example. I find this to be a shame because it treats all of these things as one entity, so we can't talk about one without the other, at least in mainstream conversation. At least we have places like this as an alternative.
I think the commercialization has become inevitable, as the value of a literary work is apparently only measured in terms of monetary potential. That naturally leads to a disregard for any efforts to preserve the integrity of the source material, and the cheerful addition of ideas and scenes not conceived in the author's wildest dreams. Books written in today's times are more susceptible, I would think, but Tolkien and A.C. Doyle are certainly not immune. The mass-media product is much more attractive to this Twitter-addicted, instant gratification society, so again it's not a stretch to see that a movie would garner more attention than the book it's based upon.

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Again, I apologise if this comes across as pretentious or arrogant. There are just times when I feel extremely isolated and alien among a culture which seems to have completely different values to my own.
As you said though, there are those who "feel your pain". I still haven't seen the Hobbit film myself, and I have no plans to do so. I really don't have any animosity toward PJ, nor do I look down my nose at people who have enjoyed the movies. I just don't think the movies have, or will do anything to enrich my enjoyment of Tolkien's works, so there's no point in me just helping Zaentz and co. line their pockets.
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Old 07-31-2013, 07:24 AM   #60
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As you said though, there are those who "feel your pain". I still haven't seen the Hobbit film myself, and I have no plans to do so.QUOTE]

If only I had you're willpower, I will defintely se the other two hobbit films...but only because I feel like I have to (I'll defintely buy the blu ray-I'm a sucker for behind the scenes stuff, and I enjoyed the video blogs more than AUJ itself)
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