Less than two weeks after its unveiling, the Middle-earth theme-park mooted for the Spanish province of Rincon de la Victoria is running into copyright concerns. Both Warner Bros. and Tolkien Estate are reported to be casting a close eye over the La Comarca (The Shire) project that was unveiled at the international tourism fair FITUR on February 1.
Rincon de la Victoria officials insist that they have their legal bases covered so that nothing will be considered a copy, and that the park would “not belong to any [single] author”. If that’s the case though, it’s starting to sound mroe like a generic fantasy theme-park and less like a Middle-earth one.
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Could the Disney theme parks be the next potential location for a Lord of the Rings-themed attraction? We reported back in January and also in February that tongues were wagging about a possible Middle-earth theme park partnership between Warner Brothers and Universal. There was even documentation that the Saul Zaentz Company had registered “several uses for Middle-earth properties that includes theme parks.” But those rumors seemed to have fizzled.
Now it seems that, “Disney and Warner Brothers have either signed or are very close to singing an agreement that will bring “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” movie-inspired areas to the Disney Parks.” WDW News Today is reporting that the partnership has been in the works since late last year and is now practically a fait accompli. The story claims that Disney may incorporate a Middle-earth attraction as part of an overhaul at the California Adventure park in Anaheim, CA. It also suggests that Disney may be looking for Hobbits to give them an edge over Hogwarts in order to compete with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter area at Universal Studio’s theme park.
WDW News today says, “As with any rumor, you should take this with a grain of salt until it is actually announced.” Is it likely that Disney would be able to overcome the hurdles that have hung up similar ventures? That they could overcome the long-held anti-Disney prejudice from within the Tolkien Estate itself? TORn staffer Demosthenes points out Tolkien’s Letter #13, where he famously insisted that he would “veto anything from or influenced by the Disney Studios (for all whose works I have a heartfelt loathing).”
Additionally, should the supposed negotiations be happening on the studio level, making an end-run around the Tolkien Estate, it seems unlikely that Warner Brothers would be keen to work together after Disney stole Oz out from under them when they released Oz the Great and Powerful earlier this year. “The Walt Disney Company did not own rights to the original 1939 The Wizard of Oz movie but moved stealthily to mount an audacious raid on the story and leave a rival studio flat-footed.”
But perhaps TheOneRing.net’s April Fools’ story this year was actually prescient and we will enter an era where Hobbit feet and Mouse ears can coexist in one big glorious theme park universe. Or maybe we’ll all just have to aspire to visit the real Hobbiton for a while longer.
[Read the original story here.]
Unconfirmed rumours are circulating that Universal is talking with Tolkien Estate about creating a Middle-earth theme park. The rumours emerged on New Year’s day on the Orlando United forum where a user reported claims that Universal Studios asked Warner Bros. to raise the topic with Tolkien Estate. At this point, it is unclear whether the user has insider knowledge, or is simply reporting what others have said.
From the source post:
“…here is how I heard that it played out. Universal asked Warner Bros. to approach the Tolkien family since the Tolkien’s trust WB with the success of the LOTR series. WB described how Universal was willing to work with JK Rowling and how the 2 of them (WB and JK) held Universal’s feet to the fire to uphold Rowling’s vision of the IP. And I believe that the Tolkien’s may have actually talked to JK Rowling. This was before Universal said a word to the Tolkien’s. So after WB stoked the fire, Universal entered the picture with an impressive plan.
As of now there is a lot of hammering out to go, but Universal has gotten a lot farther than Disney ever did.”
Tolkien aficionados would recall, of course, that the professor had a notoriously low estimation of the creative works of Walt Disney. Letter #13 in Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien makes his position clear:
“It might be advisable […] to let the Americans do what seems good to them — as long as it was possible […] to veto anything from or influenced by the Disney studios (for all whose works I have a heartfelt loathing).”
That’s not to say that Universal would fare any better with Tolkien Estate in any quest to create a Middle-earth theme park. The Estate is well-known to be wary of merchandising, and is currently engaged in a legal stoush with Warner Bros. and Saul Zaentz, alleging that the companies are merchandising beyond what was contractually agreed upon in the 1969 rights deal.
Micechat, a site that specialises in theme park news, claims Universal “is very close to acquiring the rights to develop and produce attractions based on the successful Lord of the Rings franchise of films”. So we might see whether there’s anything to this rumour quite soon.