195Re: The How and Why of Bakshi's LotR film
- Jun 16, 1999Ron Bryant wrote:
>> Why didn't Ralph Bashki ever finish the animated film of The Lord ofTo correct Ron Bryant's post:
>> the Rings?
>It's due to the rather strange legalities surrounding film rights, and
>they're tied directly to each of the three individual volumes of the
>At the time, Bakshi's company, Fantasy Films, had the rights for
>and "Two Towers," only, and still didn't make use of all the story
>of time constraints.
>Meanwhile, the rights to "Return of the King" was held by Rankin/Bass,
>folks also responsible for the animated "Hobbit" which appeared on TV in
>1976. "The Return of the King" aired as a TV movie on ABC not long after
>the release of Bakshi's LotR to the theatres in late 1978, and all three
>these quaint '70s animation pieces are available on videocassette.
>Look for them in the children's section if your favorite purveyor of
>doesn't have a proper and conscientiously maintained animation section
Bakshi intended to film the rest of _The Lord of the Rings_, but did not
because the first part was a financial flop (many would say, a flop on all
counts). The fact that he did not film the whole story at once may have had
something to do with time constraints, but had nothing to do with rights.
He, or rather the producer Saul Zaentz, owned the rights to the entire
book; indeed, Zaentz still owns the film rights to both _The Hobbit_ and
_The Lord of the Rings_. Rankin/Bass did not have the rights to _The Return
of the King_, and in fact seem not to have had even a sublicense, but
simply went under the assumption that RK was in the public domain in the
United States, a false assumption that grew out of the Tolkien copyrights
dispute of the 1960s and has since been firmly squashed by the courts. I
think (none of this has ever been made clear officially) that Rankin/Bass
had a sublicense for their _Hobbit_, but I may be wrong. In any case it's
somewhat telling that neither Rankin/Bass video is commercially available
in the U.K., where Tolkien's copyrights have never been in question.
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