The legal dispute between Hasbro and Sweetpea Entertainment over the Dungeons & Dragons television and movie rights will go to trial March 25.
The 2000 movie Dungeons & Dragons, based on the classic tabletop RPG, is widely regarded as one of the worst fantasy movies ever made. A new film was in the works from Warner Bros. and Sweetpea Entertainment. Sweetpea produced the 2000 theatrical release, as well as two later features that aired in 2005 and 2012 on the Syfy television channel. Shortly after the news broke about the Warner Bros. film, Hasbro filed a lawsuit to prevent its production. The dispute over who exactly owns the television and movie rights for Dungeons & Dragons will go to trial March 25.
Hasbro, who acquired Wizards of the Coast in 1999, believes that it holds the television and movie rights for Dungeons and Dragons. TSR, the original Dungeons & Dragons publisher, licensed Sweetpea to produce a movie, sequels, and television series in 1994. Hasbro claims that the contract stated that movie and televisions rights would each revert to TSR should Sweetpea let five years pass without a new production after the first. The lawsuit says, "Despite initial plans to release the First TV Movie as a theatrical or non-theatrical sequel based upon the Picture, the production actually was released in the United States as a television motion picture. Thus, the First TV Movie represented an exercise of the Television Rights and did not reset the Sequel Rights' five-year reversion clock." Sweetpea has filed counterclaims that the sequel rights have not reverted to Hasbro, and that the original contract gave Sweetpea exclusive and permanent rights to all Dungeons & Dragons material for live-action films. Sweetpea also claims that, even if the rights have reverted to Hasbro, it retains a "Right of Last Refusal" - that if Hasbro agrees to make a Dungeons & Dragons film, Sweetpea has the right to make the film on the same financial terms instead.
The time seems right for a return to the big screen for Dungeons & Dragons. With the success of the Game of Thrones television series, the movie-going public seems more likely than ever to watch paladins and mages fighting a dracolich. If we're lucky, the lawsuit will be settled soon, and we can go back to hoping the next film is better than the last.
Source: Purple Pawn