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The Hobbit Pub Can Keep Its Name

Posted by Mark J. Miller on March 16, 2012 10:14 AM

The Hobbit Pub in England’s Southampton serves up a slew of drinks named after various J.R.R. Tolkien characters and creations. And that didn't sit well with the producers of the film of the same name, the final installment of Peter Jackson's Tolkien series that's due for release in December.

The Guardian reported on Wednesday that the pub was given until the end of May to rebrand and drop the Hobbit moniker in a legal warning issued by the Saul Zaentz Company, producer of the film. But a mighty defender has successfully defended the place. No, it’s not Gandalf. It’s actor Stephen Fry, the British wit who is currently shooting the film of the same name.

"Sometimes I'm ashamed of the business I'm in," Fry tweeted to his four million Twitter followers. "What pointless, self-defeating bullying." Ian McKellen, who reprises his role as Gandalf in the Hobbit movie, also criticized the move on his website.

"The pub has been called The Hobbit for more than 20-years and it has never been a problem," said Stella Roberts, the landlady of the pub, to the Guardian. "I believe the decision to target us now was prompted by the release of the film ... We just haven't got the resources to fight it. I can't fight Hollywood."

The whole mess led to a Save the Hobbit Facebook page (with about 50,000 folks liking it) and a Twitter feed with about 6,000 followers. But once these sorts of legal proceedings get started, it is rare that they come to an amiable end.

Don’t think the pub is alone, either. Middle-Earth Enterprises is coming down on The Hungry Hobbit, a sandwich shop near where Tolkien grew up.

But good news is on the horizon for the Hobbit Pub proprietors, at least, who posted an update on their website indicating that amiable talks with the Saul Zaentz Company indicate they may be able to settle the matter for a low fee (£65) and keep the name, as the Guardian reported this morning. Who doesn't love a Hollywood ending?

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