December 17, 2012 4:41pm PT by Jonathan Handel
'Age of the Hobbits' on Sale Despite Court Order
Age of the Hobbits, which a federal judge enjoined Dec. 10 from release in the U.S. under that title, is nonetheless on sale under that name at Walmart.
A reader of The Hollywood Reporter sent a picture of the video in the racks at what he identified as a Dallas-area Walmart. The title on the box: Age of the Hobbits.
THR tried to call several Los Angeles-area Walmart stores to check on availability but received busy signals in each instance.
However, the movie also is available on the Walmart website -- and, again, the title is unchanged from the one enjoined by the court.
Warner Bros. and Asylum’s lawyer did not return requests for comment.
The court’s ruling said last week that the mockbuster’s title infringed trademark rights in the word “hobbit” as contained in the title of the Peter Jackson tentpole The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. That sent The Asylum, which produced Age of the Hobbits, spinning off on a journey of their own as they apparently scrambled to rename their creation.
Indeed, the movie seems to be accumulating new titles almost as quickly as Bilbo acquired dwarves. On The Asylum’s website, the movie is now called Clash of the Empires; in Cambodia, the new title is The History of Mankind, as THR previously reported; and on Vudu, as an eagle-eyed THR reader pointed out, the same movie is called Lord of the Elves. At IMDb, the movie is still listed as Age of the Hobbits.
A small sticker on the Walmart DVD says “Walmart / OCT12NR / LORD OF ELVES,” but the sticker in no way covers the original title.
The court order applied to “Asylum and its subsidiaries, officers, agents, servants, directors, employees, partners, representatives, assigns, successors, related companies, and attorneys and all persons in active concert or participation with Asylum or with any of the foregoing.” It’s unclear if a retailer would constitute a “person(s) in active concert or participation with Asylum.” Walmart was not a defendant in the suit.
The order prohibited “advertising, selling or otherwise distributing” the film with a Hobbit-like title but did not expressly require Asylum to recall the allegedly infringing product.
At present, the next scheduled action in the case is a hearing set for Jan. 28 in which Warner Bros. will seek to convert the court’s temporary restraining order into a preliminary injunction, which is a prohibition that could last for the duration of the case. The studio’s ultimate goal would include a permanent injunction.