Tag: dungeons and dragons
Remember that lawsuit that had been going on for years over the movie rights for the Dungeons & Dragons game franchise? The one that went to court almost eleven months ago?? Well, it’s finally been put to bed, with both sides reaching a settlement.
Many felt this was a “proxy war” between two studios – Warner Bros, who reached a deal with original rightsholder Sweetpea Entertainment and director Courtney Solomon to bring D&D back to the big screen, and Universal, who reached a similar agreement with Hasbro, who owns the game through subsidiary Wizards Of The Coast. Hasbro felt that Sweetpea was simply producing DVD “sequels” just to retain the rights, and sought to reclaim them to hand over to Universal. Sweetpea contested, backed by Warner Bros.
Now it appears that Sweetpea and Warner Bros. were on the winning side in the settlement, and Universal is out of the picture.
“We are so excited about bringing the world of Dungeons & Dragons to life on the big screen,” according to Greg Silverman, WB’s president of Creative Development and Worldwide Production. “This is far and away the most well-known brand in fantasy, which is the genre that drives the most passionate film followings. D&D has endless creative possibilities, giving our filmmakers immense opportunities to delight and thrill both fans and moviegoers new to the property.”
Courtney Solomon and Allan Zeman of Sweetpea Entertainment, Brian Goldner and Stephen Davis, and Roy Lee (The LEGO Movie) are all set to produce. A script has already been written by David Leslie Johnson (The Conjuring 2). No director has been named yet, so it seems likely that we are quite a ways off yet.
From what I’ve been told, Solomon and Zeman will remain producers for all Warner Bros productions of the franchise in theaters or on TV, but overall rights return to Wizards Of The Coast.
Now, let’s see if they can come up with something good. Been waiting 25 years…
Looks like it is about time for the annual update on the lawsuit between games-maker Hasbro and Sweetpea Entertainment over the rights to films based on Hasbro’s Dungeons & Dragons game franchise.
The case has finally opened in court, and Deadline reports that the juryless trial has opened with a volley of magic missiles between the parties.
Patricia Glaser, the lawyer representing Sweetpea, claims that the lawsuit is simply an attempt by Hasbro to re-capture the rights in order to hand them over to Universal, while Sweetpea has met all the requirements to maintain the rights according to their 1994 agreement with then-D&D owner TSR, having produced several (poorly performing) sequels, including a 2010 direct-to-DVD release that they say Hasbro even signed off on. They go on to claim that since acquiring Wizards of the Coast in 1999, which had previously acquired TSR in 1997, Hasbro has been trying to undermine Sweetpea’s rights to the franchise.
Hasbro counter-claims that Sweetpea was doing nothing except producing “auto-sequels” and was not paying the required licensing fees.
An interested third party in this is Warner Bros, who after failing to negotiate proper rights with Hasbro to a movie based on Chainmail, the predecessor to Dungeons & Dragons, partnered with Sweetpea to take over the franchise rights. WB is apparently putting up as much as $1 million for legal fees for Sweetpea in the case.
The case is expected to last the rest of the week.
It appears that Sweetpea Entertainment has cast its counterspell to Hasbro’s fireball…they filed a 102 page counter-complaint against Hasbro, and aren’t pulling any punches. They aren’t just asking for clarification of rights, but “damages, including its actual damages (or statutory damages for certain acts of copyright infringement, if Sweetpea so elects), Counter-Defendants’ profits, treble and punitive damages, as well as attorney fees and costs, in an amount to be ascertained pursuant to applicable laws.”
Hasbro filed suit again Sweetpea Entertainment in May to shut down production on D&D movie being set up at Warner Bros, saying it owned the rights as Sweetpea did not meet the requirements to retain the rights after 2000’s Dungeons & Dragons and the 2005 sequel Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God.
The defendant appears to be Courtney Solomon’s Sweetpea Entertainment, who produced the 2000 Dungeons & Dragons, as well as the 2005 sequel Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God. The quoted article has a number of problems that make it hard to make sense of what they are saying, but the 2005 sequel would appear to have qualified, but the 2012 Dungeons & Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness might, as Hasbro claims, not qualify, since it was more than 5 years after the previous effort and retained no characters or situations from either. But I also don’t see Courtney Solomon or Sweetpea in the credits list on IMDb.
Can Warner Bros cast remove curse and break the spell that seems to dictate that a Dungeons & Dragons movie can’t be good? It appears they are ready to bet they can, as they acquired the movie rights to the venerable game franchise. And it appears they are moving forward quickly, looking to adapt a script already written by David Leslie Johnson (Wrath Of The Titans). Interestingly, that script was based not on D&D but it’s precursor, Chainmail, a miniatures game which Gary Gygax helped create first before teaming with Dave Arneson on D&D.
Roy Lee (The Woman In Black) will produce with Courtney Solomon, who produced the first two attempts at D&D movies, 2000’s Dungeons & Dragons and the 2005 direct-to-video sequel, Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God. The former was critically panned, while the latter took itself a bit more seriously, producing a moderate effort but nothing to appeal to non-D&D fans.
A third production, Dungeons & Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness, was released last year, appears unrelated to the first two, and I don’t know much about it.
Update 5/10: It appears there is already a snag…it seems Hasbro claims they own the rights, and are working with Universal. They do essentially own the game, as they own Wizards of the Coast, which bought TSR in 1997.
My prediction? Whether movie gets made by WB, Universal, or not at all…the lawyers will get richer.