You might be going to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey this coming weekend, but you won't be going to see Age of the Hobbits. Wait, what? A judge has sided with the producers of the major Tolkien film who alleged that its low-budget "competitor" was deliberately trying to confuse people, Eriq Gardner of the Hollywood Reporter reports. Now The Age of Hobbits—which was to be released on DVD December 11, a mere three days before the release of The Hobbit proper—faces a temporary restraining order. In one of the many troubles the Hobbit films have encountered, producers even enlisted Nielsen to help prove their point that people might be mixed up by the similar names and aesthetics. Ultimately the judge ruled that "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."
The plot of Age of the Hobbits, according to its IMDb page, goes something like this:
In an age long ago, the last village of clever, peace-loving Hobbits is attacked and enslaved by the Java Men, komodo-worshiping, dragon-riding cannibals. Now the young Hobbit Goben, along with his father and sister, must seek help from the "giants" (human hunters) to find the Javas' lair and rescue the last surviving Hobbits, Goben's mother among them. In their quest to destroy the Javas, the heroic partnership of humans and Hobbits will transform both species forever.
So, not quite filled with dwarves and Gollum and one ring to rule them all, but you get the point. Gardner wrote that The Asylum, the company that produced the film, claimed that "it had fair use to use 'Hobbits,' saying the word referred to a real-life human subspecies, Homo Floresiensis, discovered in 2003 in Indonesia." But there's something maybe a little sinister behind their operation. Tom Breihan reported at Grantland in October that Asylum has a habit of doing this: Universal sued them over their film American Battleship, released around the same time as Battleship; when Battle: Los Angeles was coming out, they made Battle of Los Angeles, which starred Kel Mitchell of Kenan & Kel. They call these films "mockbusters."
So, since you have to wait for it, here's the trailer for Age of the Hobbits. Enjoy:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.