Xenite.Org and SF-Fandom have been hosting discussions about Tolkien-based movies since Xenite launched its first White Council forum in October 1997. Soon afterward, rumors began circulating that Peter Jackson would be adapting Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings for the big screen.
By the time we launched SF-Fandom at the beginning of 2001 we saw a real need for a dedicated movie forum. Of course, with the release of the third Jackson film at the end of 2003 interest in Tolkien movies has died out across the Web.
Nonetheless, I’ve always hoped we’d see more Tolkien films and it seems we now have more Tolkien films than people imagined would be put into production.
Only Guillermo del Toro’s movies based on The Hobbit have any sort of official sanction, but we feel that the fan-made movies “Born of Hope” and “The Hunt for Gollum” deserve attention. These appear to be quality productions created by film and television industry professionals, people who know what they are doing.
To that end SF-Fandom has renamed its outdated “Lord of the Rings (movies)” forum to the Middle-earth Movies Forum. It is our hope that we’ll continue to see quality productions based on Tolkien’s work.
The fan films run considerable risk of being chased down by the Saul Zaentz Company subsidiary Tolkien Enterprises or by the Tolkien Trust, both of whom have issued cease-and-desist orders against fan projects in the past. It really comes down to whether the trademark or copyright owners feel their rights are being infringed.
In other words, do they feel that consumer confusion (trademark infringement) or potential sales of sanctioned movies (copyright infringement) is occurring or is likely to occur?
The conundrum for fan-made projects is that they are being made by fans for fans and therefore need the support of their fellow fans. And yet, that very support — if it grows to a significant audience size — threatens to bring the fan projects into the limelight of intellectual property rights enforcement. What is a well-meaning fan to do?
I think, however, that both “Born of Hope” and “The Hunt for Gollum” deserve our support. If nothing else they should inspire people to turn back to the books (and maybe compare the films to the Jackson movies) — and thus may be good for sales of both movies and books.
Hence, we do support and encourage these types of projects at SF-Fandom and we look forward to discussing these and many other fan films with everyone.
SF-Fandom is a fan-run moderated Web discussion community devoted to science fiction, fantasy, history, and mythology. Founded in 2001, SF-Fandom is part of the Xenite.Org Network of science fiction and fantasy Web sites.