A U.S. District Court in California granted a temporary restraining order on Monday preventing a parody of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” from going on sale three days before Peter Jackson’s movie opens in theaters nationwide.
Global Asylum, a film production company that makes parodies of blockbuster films, such as “Transmorphers” in place of ‘Transformers,” has made a parody of “The Hobbit” titled “Age of the Hobbits.” It was set to go on sale on DVD, Blu-Ray and online platforms Dec. 11.
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” the first in Peter Jackson's series of three films adapting J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic book, opens in theaters Dec. 14.
The studios behind “The Hobbit” franchise — Warner Bros., New Line MGM and producer Saul Zaentz — had asked the court to prevent that release and have already filed suit against Global Asylum.
The court for the central district of California granted the studios’ request, as Judge Phillip S. Gutierrez said that they had satisfied the legal standard for a temporary restraining order. The standard requires the applicant to demonstrate that it has a valid copyright infringement claim, that there would be danger to the plaintiff if the order is not granted, that the plaintiff would suffer more and that the order would advance the public interest.
Global Asylum, which has also parodied “Sherlock Holmes” and “Paranormal Activity” among many other titles, argued that its film was not trying to deceive viewers or use the impending debut of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” to boost its own profits.
Among its many arguments, it argued that because it had already started to ship DVDs to retailers, a temporary restraining order would hurt it more than Warner Bros. Asylum also said its use of the word hobbit was referring to a human sub-species with the Latin name Homo Floresiensis.
“The evidence of the advertising and promotion for ‘Age of Hobbits,’ as well as the media coverage the film has received, provides support for Plaintiffs’ contention that Asylum intended to deceive consumers by associating its movie with Plaintiffs’ works,” he wrote in his decision.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report