Just four days before the release of Warner Brothers $200 million-plus adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, the studio has won a temporary restraining order blocking Global Asylum from releasing a direct-to-DVD film, Age of the Hobbits. Warner Bros. contends that Global Asylum was seeking to piggyback its schlocky film on the immense marketing campaign that Warners and its allies are mounting for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which opens nationwide on Friday.
Asylum maintains that its film’s use of the term "hobbit" is not based on the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, but on a 2003 archaeological discover of a human subspecies, Homo Floresiensis, which scientists have nicknamed "hobbits." The court rejected Asylum’s argument noting that the nickname for the subspecies came from its supposed similarity with Tolkien’s well-known characters. The court also pointed out that "Homo Floresiensis" was never mentioned in Asylum’s advertising, which would tend to indicate intent to deceive potential consumers.
According to The Wall St. Journal, Warner Bros. commissioned the Nielsen National Research Group to conduct a market survey, which found that many people believed that the Age of the Hobbits movie was made by the same company that produced Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.