Interior of the next Disney Princess castle?

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.”

Tolkien signs with Disney? April Fools'!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.]

After nearly 19 months away from the spotlight, a new King Kong — more grizzled and, definitely, ferocious — is preparing to return to Universal Studios Hollywood. Since the old animatronic Kong was destroyed in a fire on the theme park’s back lot, Hollywood’s top visual effects wizards have been tinkering away in a giant hangar in Playa Vista to create a new, more realistic ape to terrify visitors who take the park’s signature back lot studio tour.

Inside the humongous drab-green building, Academy Award-winning director Peter Jackson has led a team of film and theme park ride experts in creating a 3-D version of the hairy ape to replace the Kong that died in the June 2008 fire. More..

Kristin writes: In recent days there has been news of DreamWorks ending its distribution partnership with Paramount and signing a deal with Universal. That change is affecting both Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones and his collaboration with Steven Spielberg on the Tintin films. I’ve posted an entry on The Frodo Franchise laying out the little that is known at this point about what the effects will be.

Universal Logo
Universal Logo
Nikki Finke writes: I just heard that Universal has declined to exercise an option to co-finance DreamWorks’ Tintin with Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson set to begin filming in October. The decision was quietly made a few weeks ago. So now DreamWorks will look only to owner Paramount for the rest of the moolah in the same way the two shared financing on Dreamgirls and Transformers. Unfortunately, Paramount is presently without an overall financing deal to mitigate risk, but is arranging it on a film-by-film basis. I say Tintin — to be played by Love Actually’s Thomas Sangster — sounds like an expensive but safe bet, considering that the beloved Belgian boy is a worldwide phenomenon, and that the two great filmmakers are directing and producing even though also participating as huge first-dollar-gross players. This latest wrinkle would be more interesting if, say, Uni’s decision hurt its about-to-become-closer relationship with DreamWorks. But it didn’t. As I already reported, GE’s Jeff Immelt and Uni’s Ron Meyer dined with Spielberg and Stacey Snider Thursday night while NBC Uni’s Jeff Zucker spent the better part of that afternoon with Steven planning out the rebuild of the fire-ravaged backlot.