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195Re: The How and Why of Bakshi's LotR film

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  • Wayne G. Hammond
    Jun 16, 1999
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      Ron Bryant wrote:

      >> Why didn't Ralph Bashki ever finish the animated film of The Lord of
      >> the Rings?
      >It's due to the rather strange legalities surrounding film rights, and
      >the way
      >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

      To correct Ron Bryant's post:

      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.

      Wayne Hammond
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