A few days ago we reported that Warner Bros had climbed into their ample movie-making closet to dust off an old box of Dungeons & Dragons in preparation for a new feature film. Unfortunately, it seems they barely had time to fill out a character sheet before toy giant Hasbro arrived to mess up all their papers, snap their pencils and kick the figurines all over the room. That's right, The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that, Hasbro has launched a lawsuit against D&D producer "s production company Sweetpea Entertainment.
According to Hasbro, they own all the rights to any sequels associated with the Dungeons & Dragons name and game. In a statement Hasbro, who also own the rights to the G.I. Joe and Transformer franchises, stated:
Sweetpea's claim of ownership of the theatrical motion picture rights in the Property is baseless because the Sequel Rights have reverted to Hasbro.
After their 2000 Dungeons & Dragons movie, Sweetpea and Soloman did indeed own the sequel rights to any films based on the games. However, according to Hasbro, they have not been used in 5 years and so reverted back to Hasbro. Although Soloman and Sweetpea Entertainment did release two more Dungeons & Dragons TV movies since 2000, Hasbro claims these were standalone properties and not sequels.
This confusion is further exasperated by the fact that Warner's D&D script (written by Wrath of the Titans scribe David Leslie Johnson) was originally devised for a different pen and paper game called Chainmail. This name was abandoned after Warner decided to give their game adaptation movie a more recognizable moniker.
Although at first it seemed Hasbro may have slayed any Dungeons & Dragons reboot, Warner and Sweetpea have fought back, and they might have just thrown a saving roll. In a statement released via Sweatpea Entertainment, Courtney Solomon claimed:
Sweetpea Entertainment has had Dungeons & Dragons motion picture rights since the 1990's including sequel, prequel and remake rights... This is nothing but shameless opportunism on the part of Hasbro, an effort to use the Court and the legal process in an attempt to delay the project. We intend to deal with them quickly and firmly and we are confident we will prevail – just as we did in the 1990's, when the last legal challenge ended with a confirmation of Sweepea's rights.
Sweetpea's lawyer Patricia Glaser added:
Another suit filed to try to put the freeze on a project. Classic Hollywood shenanigans.
Now, Sweetpea didn't quite explain how they planned to beat Hasbro's challenge, but utilizing my extremely limited knowledge of Hollywood corporate law I can make a semi-educated guess. Hasbro claims it owns 'sequel rights', however from what I've read, Solomon does not plan to produce a sequel to his 2000 D&D flop. Instead, Warner Bros upcoming project has always been described as a 'reboot': i.e. a standalone product. If Sweetpea had permission to develop standalone TV films, then surely they can do it on the big screen too?
What do you think? Should Hasbro back off, or are you glad they're trying to stop another Dungeons & Dragons movie? Let me know below.