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Dungeons & Dragons movie suit finally ends in settlement in Warner Bros favor

by on Aug.03, 2015, under Movies

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…


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Warner Bros and Bruckheimer to take another scan of DC Comics’ Global Frequency

by on Nov.20, 2014, under Comics, Television

Warner Bros TV are teaming up with Jerry Bruckheimer to adapt the DC Comics limited series Global Frequency, which has received a pilot commitment from Fox. Rockne S. O’Bannon (Farscape, Defiance) will pen the script.

Global Frequency was a limited series comic from Warren Ellis about an underground organization led by a former intelligence agent who calls herself Miranda Zero, who connects with a thousand members of the Global Frequency, chosen for their varied specialties, via specially modified phones to deal with any number of different crises. Although existence of the organization is known it’s members are not, even to each other, until they are called in for a particular case. The only constant characters are Zero and her dispatch coordinator, named Aleph.

This will actually be WBTV’s third attempt at a series for the title. in 2005 a Mark Burnett-led pilot starring Michelle Forbes (Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Killing) as Zero and Aimee Garcia (Dexter) as Aleph, along with Josh Hopkins (Cougar Town), and looked promising (J. Michael Straczynski was already lined up to be showrunner) but ultimately was not picked up to series. Another script was floated for the CW several years ago but a pilot was never commissioned.


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Warner Bros’ very busy release slate: LEGOs, Harry Potter, and a whole lotta superheros

by on Oct.15, 2014, under Movies

Warner Bros is very busy the next several years, announcing today it’s release slate. And it features both dipping back in the well that works as well as trying to out-superhero Marvel.

Warner Bros.’ Chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara spoke at the Time Warner shareholder’s meeting and laid out a lot of their studio plans for 2016-2020.

First up is the expected Harry Potter spinoff, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, which is currently being set at three separate films, set to release in 2016, 2018, and 2020.

Next, after the HUGE success of The LEGO Movie, the already-announced sequel has been set for 2018, but it will be preceded by two others: Ninjago (2016), based on the Cartoon Network series, and The LEGO Movie: Batman (2017), a spin-off that follows the rather stuck-up (and not to mention, blocky) take on the character from the first movie.

And then there is the world of DC Comics…we’re already waiting for Batman vs. Superman (2016) and Justice League (2017), but Wonder Woman will indeed get her own standalone movie before Justice League (starring Gal Gadot, who will be introduced in BvS), 2018 will see The Flash (starring Ezra Miller, and apparently not connected at all to the just-started TV series) and Aquaman (with Stargate Atlantis and Game of Thrones Jason Momoa finally confirmed).

2019 will give us Shazam and a second Justice League movie, and in 2020 Warner Bros will try and get Green Lantern off to Oa again with a reboot after the disappointing Ryan Reynolds effort.

Shuffled in are two other titles, Suicide Squad in 2016 and Cyborg in 2020. And apparently this isn’t even ALL of the planned DC movies. Yikes!


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Warner Bros creates “Harry Potter Global Franchise Development” team

by on Jul.30, 2014, under Books, Movies

Three years removed from the last film and five from the last book, but hot on the heals of a theme park expansion, Warner Bros is hoping to keep Harry Potter fresh and in the minds of people who spend money. They just created the “Harry Potter Global Franchise Development” (HPGFD) which will oversee the relationship with author and HP creator J.K. Rowling, with Josh Berger, currently a Managing Director and the President of Warner UK, Ireland and Spain, at the helm.

What does it mean? For the most part, the group will manage the strategic vision for the brand across all the ancillary business units, including merchandise, online (web sites like Pottermore), theme parks, etc. And who’s to say they won’t also be asking for some more material to work with from J.K.? A new film is already on the way (Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them) along with two more theme park lands (Universal Studios Hollywood and Japan), and a stage play opening in London next year. And the fans want more Harry (perhaps to Daniel Radcliffe’s chagrin), so I think we’ll someday see at least more words written about the Boy Who Lived.


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Warner Bros wins round against Tolkien estate over rights

by on Jul.11, 2013, under General News, Movies

Remember when the estate for author J.R.R. Tolkien filed suit against Warner Bros over a Lord Of The Rings-themed online gambling game? Well, it seems that Warner Bros has won the first round.

Warner Bros (and Saul Zentz, the longtime rights holder) filed a countersuit in March against the estate, claiming that the initial lawsuit “hurt financially and had its rights to the author’s properties undermined,” and that it had to cancel the licensing agreement with Microgaming because of the suit, and that the estate has been receiving royalties from the agreement that was re-worked in 2010 already.

Today, a federal judge dismissed the motion by the plaintiffs to have the counterclaims dismissed, allowing the countersuit to move forward.


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Hasbro to take Dungeons & Dragons movie rights to court

by on May.14, 2013, under Games, Movies

Pursuant to our previous article on Warner Bros developing a Dungeons & Dragons movie, it appears that Hasbro is prepared to take the case to court – but not against Warner Bros.

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.


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Warner Bros obtains Dungeons & Dragons movie rights

by on May.07, 2013, under Games, Movies

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.


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Warner Bros sets up futuristic version of The Odyssey written by James DiLapo

by on Jan.15, 2013, under Movies

Warner Bros wants to take on a new version of Homer’s epic Greek poem, The Odyssey – but set it in space. The studio has hired newcomer James DiLapo to write the script, based on his pitch of an idea Terry Dougas of 1821 Pictures (Machete Kills).

DiLapo wrote Devils At Play, a script which won the Nicholl Fellowship and was on the 2012 Black List of the most liked unproduced scripts according to studio executives.


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The Dark Tower project searching for funding again

by on Aug.21, 2012, under Movies

Ron Howard’s ambitious multi-platform project to being Stephen King’s The Dark Tower to life – originally conceived as a trilogy of movies AND two TV series – is looking for studio backing again. After Universal balked on the project a year ago, Warner Bros stepped in – but now it seems even WB has passed on it, despite getting an updated script from Akiva Goldsman and buzz about Russell Crowe interested in a lead role.

But another funding source may be in the hunt, with Media Rights Capital interested. MRC recently funded the Seth MacFarlane hit comedy Ted, and also the upcoming Elysium starring Matt Damon and Jodi Foster and directed by Neill Blomkamp (District 9). So for now, the project lives on.


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Warner Bros shuts down Akira production – for now

by on Jan.05, 2012, under Movies

The long- and highly-anticipated live action production of the well-known anime feature, Akira (and I mean long – we first reported about it just about 10 years ago), has been shut down by Warner Bros at least for a couple weeks, to see if the producers can shrink the budget even further.

The budget was already cut down to about $90 million when current director Jaume Collet-Serra (House of Wax) took over, where previously it was looking close to $200 million. But it appears the studio doesn’t believe the cast can draw the numbers still. The only actor currently signed on is Garrett Hedlund, who only saw moderate success with Tron: Legacy, while actors Ken Watanabe (Inception), Kristin Stewart (the Twilight saga) and Helena Bonham Carter (the Harry Potter franchise, Dark Shadows) in negotiations, but apparently that is not necessarily the star power they want for the budget. It is believed if they can cut another $20-$30 million, however, it may move forward.


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