Veteran actor Sir Ian McKellen, who plays the wizard Gandalf in both The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy and the upcoming The Hobbit film, has added his voice to the growing copyright war started by the Saul Zaentz Company (SZC).
SZC, who controls the licensing of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit under their division Middle-earth Enterprises (formerly Tolkien Enterprises), has been going after establishments/companies that in anyway refer to events, characters, places, or names mentioned in either Tolkien’s ‘The Lord of the Rings’ or ‘The Hobbit’.
One such place is the The Hobbit Pub in Southampton, England which received papers from SZC’s lawyers telling them that they are in violation of copyright laws and that they cannot use the name ‘The Hobbit Pub’ nor the likenesses of any of the characters in their establishment. Word of this has spread worldwide with help from social media sites Facebook and Twitter. Many have expressed outrage over SZC’s intents. Actor Stephen Fry, currently working on The Hobbit in New Zealand, even tweeted his displeasure of the Hollywood ‘bullying’ The Hobbit Pub was receiving.
Now fellow Hobbit actor Ian McKellen has added his voice, posting an entry on his Hobbit blog:
‘…In the past the Tolkien estate has forbidden any commercialisation of the works. So no Tolkien museums. No Tolkien rides at Universal. No theme park. That doesn’t worry New Zealand overmuch. The country itself has become the Middle-earth ride.
But it worries Middle-earth Enterprises of Los Angeles. With no apparent explanation they are insisting that The Hobbit pub stop trading under that name. As if it were possible to control the way Tolkien and his characters have entered the culture. Did anyone try to ban “Gandalf for President” buttons? I wear mine with pride…
…I haven’t yet talked to Stephen Fry about his disapproval of this Hollywood bullying but I’m with him all the way. All the way to The Hobbit pub once filming is over in July.’
Will other Lord of the Rings or Hobbit actors lend their support against SZC? Only time will tell.
Other places feeling the heat from SZC include:
- The Hungry Hobbit Café in Birmingham – contacted by SZC Nov 2011.
- Microlodge UK (also contacted by SZC in Nov 2011, they removed the word ‘hobbit’ from their website in reference to their lodges).
Related post: Save ‘The Hobbit’…Pub, that is