Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which is currently in production in New Zealand, boasts some of the giants of the UK television and film industry including Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins), Benedict Cumberbatch (Smaug), Ian McKellan (Gandalf), Christopher Lee (Saruman), Stephen Fry (Master of Lake-town), Richard Armitage (Thorin) and Aidan Turner (Kili).
Even with that type of juggernaut cast and crew, drama from the long-anticipated Peter Jackson epic is more off the set than on these days according to BBC News. Seems as though an out of the way 20+ year old pub in Southampton named The Hobbit has attracted the attention of lawyers in California representing the Saul Zaentz Company, which claims to hold the worldwide rights to anything and everything associated with author JRR Tolkien and that includes The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
Thankfully, the great and powerful Stephen Fry has spoken. Taking his case to Twitter, Mr. Fry tweeted from the set of the film: “Honestly, sometimes I’m ashamed of the business I’m in. What pointless, self-defeating bullying.”
With Fry’s backing, supporters of the Save the Hobbit’s Facebook page went from 3,000 to over 46,000 followers overnight. Unfortunately, The Hobbit’s Landlady, Stella Mary Roberts admitted that while it would cost thousands to rebrand the pub, it would be a massive uphill climb to retain the rights to the pubs name.
Roberts said: “We were absolutely stunned. It was completely unexpected, we never intended to infringe anyone’s copyright. Are we doing any harm? I don’t think so. We’re bringing people to the books and the stories who haven’t heard of JRR Tolkien.
“We don’t have the financial resources to fight it – I can’t fight Hollywood.”
Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail and everyone will pay attention to the man behind the curtain this time around.