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Friday, May 10, 2013

Will the Real Dungeons & Dragons Movie Please Step Up!

This was going through my G+ feed and blog roll earlier this week:

Warner Bros Acquires Rights To Make ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ Movie - the interesting part to note is that the working title of the script is "Chainmail"
That script, Chainmail, was acquired last year as a free-standing project, based on an obscure game that was also hatched by D&D designer Gary Gygax before he and Dave Arneson launched D&D. It is being retro-fitted to fit the much bigger game creation. 
Now, Chainmail is not all that obscure, and is at least known of by most of those in the hobby (even if many of those have never seen a copy). It has no where near the pull with the general public as Dungeons & Dragons does tho'. It could be that this is their work around to using the D&D Brand - or not, because as you read further, they might have both companies might have the rights to make a D&D movie.

Now we have the latest update:

Rights Battle On ‘Dungeons & Dragons’: Warner Bros and Universal/Hasbro Tangle -

Hasbro spokesman Wayne Charness said that “Hasbro owns the intellectual property rights to Dungeons & Dragons, period, because of Hasbro’s acquisition of Wizards Of The Coast in 1998.” Insiders on the other project maintain this has come up before, and that in a binding arbitration decision, Solomon prevailed and was proven to hold the underlying rights necessary to make the Warner Bros movie possible.
Interesting, as Universal apparently also has a movie in the works:
the project at Universal (is) to be developed as a directing vehicle by Chris Morgan, the scribe behind the last five films in The Fast And The Furious franchise (including the upcoming Fast 6) and 47 Ronin.
It almost looks like the D&D Movie Brand has gone OGL ;)

9 comments:

  1. I suspect the final title will be "Standard Reference Document."

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  2. More excited at the unknown prospect of a Universal-backed D&D movie right now than seeing a #4 chruned out by the same guy who brought us 1 through 3. At least Morgan has ties to Vin Diesel, who really should be in a good D&D movie. Solomon's efforts have always been about bringing his pet world to life on the big screen in as haphazard a way possible at the brand's expense.

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  3. Warner could make the Chainmail: Dungeons & Dragons movie while Universal could make the Retro-clone; Scalemail: Dark Labyrinths and Weird Wizardry.

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  4. "System Neutral Fantasy Adventure: The Movie"

    Also, I'd watch an animated feature length Rusty & Co, which falls under "Obviously D&D but not D&D for legal reasons (P.S. Sorry for Yuan-Tiffany, she's a Lamia now *wink wink*)."

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  5. It would seem to me that Solomon and Warner Brothers will prevail, as the rights to a "Dungeons & Dragons" movie were sold by TSR (under Lorraine Williams) to Solomon *in perpetuity*, i.e., with no sunset/return clause whatsoever. It does not matter that Hasbro bought Wizards, as Wizards *never got the rights to the movie from TSR*. They had been sold off prior to that purchase, again, forever!

    So Hasbro and Universal are about to have a whole lot of reasons to curse Williams as so many others have in the past. They haven't a legal leg to stand on.

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  6. This is awesome. Insted of three awful D&D movies we can have FIVE!

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  7. Who knew D&D was such a hot property.

    Hasbro realized they actually hold the overall rights to another IP that could spawn a multi-billion dollar movie-centered franchise. If only the fools running TSR into the ground hadn't made the mistake of giving movie rights to a complete noob of a film-maker ... forever. Actually I think there are reversion clauses, but they were trivially easy to satisfy (thus the two made-for-SyFy movies).

    It would be slightly more bearable if the films improved with each iteration, but that's not going to happen judging from the trend. These films could be construed as damaging to the brand.

    That is where I think Hasbro has a chance, keep pushing their overall rights. We've had authors reclaim their rights if a contract's language was poor to begin with. It's an angle they can attack from.

    Failing that Hasbro presumably also has trademarks on D&D in all other venues and media. D&D films could slip by as forgettable, small-scale B-movie-of-the-week, but to sustain a larger, mainstream cinematic effort they'll need merchandising to supplement the cost of such movies. Hasbro has a lock on those, making third party movies less enticing to investors and studios if there's no accompanying product hype-machine to help push the film.

    I wonder what would happen if Hasbro started making games and action figures for their competition's movie? They own the brand in other media. They could sign contracts for the appearance of the individuals actors. Could one tell if it's a toy for D&D the movie or for D&D in general that happens to look like Character A? Is it enforceable?

    They'll probably settle out of court, with Hasbro buying the rights back from the current holder.

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  8. "the project at Universal (is) to be developed as a directing vehicle by Chris Morgan, the scribe behind the last five films in The Fast And The Furious franchise"

    Could we possibly see Vin Diesel as the protagionist? :)

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  9. I wonder if, say, a Ravenloft movie would be in contest. Presumably campaign settings are system-neutral and Wizards would be able to sell rights to those without as many questions.
    That seems like a curious prospect to me- since I'm used to looking at D&D through the filter of a rules set, I'm curious about exactly what IP one gains from the rights. Could a Greyhawk, Planescape or Ebberron movie feature rust monsters or mind flayers without buying the rights to D&D first? Do you have to buy the rights to both Ravenloft and Dragonlance before you could feature Lord Soth in a Ravenloft movie?
    Weird to think about. For me, at least.

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