Warner Bros. and MGM have temporarily halted the release of the upcoming direct-to-video movie Age of the Hobbits, according to Deadline.
The two studios were concerned some Hobbit fans would be confused by the release of the aforementioned “mockbuster.” Since Warner and MGM have quite a bit of money invested in Peter Jackson’s return to Middle Earth, the companies asked a judge for a temporary restraining order against Age of the Hobbits.
The offending film was produced by the folks at The Asylum, a company devoted to making cheap, direct-to-video versions of major Hollywood motion pictures. Producers found themselves in hot water earlier this year when they released American Battleship, the low-budget knock-off of director Peter Berg’s big-budget sci-fi flop Battleship.
Needless to say, Warner Bros. was extremely satisfied with the order:
“This victory underscores the importance of protecting the unique work of our industry’s creative community from companies like Asylum, whose cynical business model is designed to profit from the work of others. Their intent to create confusion in the marketplace on the eve of release of ‘The Hobbit,’ one of the most anticipated films of the year, has met with defeat.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, The Asylum’s Age of the Hobbits was supposed to hit retail shelves today (December 11) to take advantage of the hype surrounding its big-budget counterpart. However, the temporary restraining order award to Warner Bros. has pushed the title’s release to January of 2013.
The judge ruled that it was likely people may become confused by the release of Age of the Hobbits. Since most people tend associated the word “hobbit” with the work of J.R.R. Tolkien and the official big screen adaptations, it was determined that The Asylum’s effort was stepping on the studios’ trademark.
California federal Judge Philip Gutierrez said:
“The majority of factors weigh in favor of a finding of likelihood of confusion, and no factor weighs against such a finding. Moreover, the finding is particularly strong on the three factors that courts have found to be the most important, especially in the context of the Internet: similarity of the marks, relatedness of the goods, and use of similar marketing channels.”
Do you think people would confuse Age of the Hobbits for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit? Take a look at the trailer embedded below and let us know what you think.