The Asylum is a studio known for making low-budget “mockbuster” films which play off of the names of successful Hollywood films – among them, “Titanic II,” “Snakes on a Train,” and “Transmorphers.” They recently become embroiled in a lawsuit with Warner Bros. after it was alleged that their newest film, “Age of the Hobbits,” was trying to cash in on the buzz being generated by Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”
While the characters in “Age of the Hobbits” do not exactly resemble Tolkien’s characters – according to The Asylum, they are based on the prehistoric humanoid Homo floresiensis – the studios behind Jackson’s films wanted the term “hobbit” taken out of the title. Asylum argued that “hobbits” were listed among other mythical creatures in a publication from 1895, The Denham Tracts, and that Tolkien, therefore, did not coin the term himself.
US District Court Judge Phillip Gutierrez wrote that this, “single example of the use of the term in a publication released decades before Tolkien introduced the hobbit characters to the world of popular fantasy fiction does not change the court’s conclusion that the mark is fanciful.”
Three days prior to the US theatrical release of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” Judge Gutierrez issued a temporary restraining order against the film and granted Warner Bros.’ request for a preliminary injunction.
The Asylum went ahead and released their film on DVD under its original title, but has now thrown in the towel and will be reissuing the film under the title “Clash of the Empires.”