Elfquest too much like The Hobbit, says Warner Brothers


101 Responses to “Elfquest too much like The Hobbit, says Warner Brothers”

  1. Ben Ehlers says:

    Don’t forget that these are elves…. on a quest! I mean really, its almost the same thing.  

  2. CSMcDonald says:

    Well it also has  wolves in it that get rode – too much like Twilight…

  3. Chappai says:

    I’m sorry but apparently someone at WB has their head up the backside. Elfquest has about as much in common with The Hobbit, as Star Trek has with Star Wars.

  4. TooGoodToCheck says:

    eh. . .  the actual explanation – that they don’t want to compete with their own film (The Hobbit) – is not exactly the same as saying that the two films are too similar.  More that they appeal to the same demographics, which is plausible.  You’d think they could solve that problem by releasing the movies a couple months apart, but who knows.

    I can almost imagine a plausible argument for this.  The concern is presumably less about hardcore fantasy/comics fans, who would probably watch both movies repeatedly, and more about the question of whether there’s enough mainstream interest to support two high fantasy features in the same season.  

    • Snig says:

      I agree that’s a better explanation of their thinking, but it’s still bizarre because it never stopped them before.  If they think anything has a hint of being successful, they can’t wait to resell the same story either as a sequel or more commonly a ripoff.  I don’t know who came up with the line “If you liked (insert successful movie title here), you’ll love (insert crap ripoff movie title here), but it’s certainly a Hollywood staple.  I should likely shut up, as if I think about studio execs too long, I’m gonna start talking about Firefly, and then I’ll be up all night.

      • R_Young says:

        Of course studios love sequels, because they allow a producer to mitigate their risk, as they have a proven audience.  Showing two fantasy movies close to each other has the risk of splitting your demographics without having a known product name you can sell as a sequel.  

  5. lilomar says:

    If they were going to make it like The Hobbit, then I’m glad they decided not to go forward on production.

  6. Guest says:

    On, Wendy — you must be pissed! That movie’s been in development for decades.

  7. AnthonyC says:

    In summer 2011 Hollywood released Thor, Transformers, X-men 1st class, Captain America, and Green Lantern.

    But ElfQuest is too much like The Hobbit? If you’re going to make up an excuse, at least make up a believable one. And if that is the real reason, it’s absurd.

    • In journalism, “despite” often really means “because of”, and vice-versa.

      “Many suspected Senator Chris Dodd would become a lobbyist upon leaving office, despite his unusually profuse promises that he would not.”

      Perhaps it’s the same deal here: there is a missing element of context that inverts the meanings in play.

      Stuff like Elfquest might only be interesting to WB as a LOTR-like thing, because that’s what they know how to market. But its evident dissimilarities to genre fantasy make that plan impossible. So to WB’s way of seeing things,  Elfquest is too much like LOTR … for them to figure out how to market it. “Looks like The Hobbit” means “we never should have optioned this, because we can’t sell it.”

      See also: “We never should have optioned Akira, because we can’t sell it unless we replace all those asians.”

    • R_Young says:

      Superhero movies are a proven brand by now; we’re in a decade where there are almost as many superhero movies as there are all other types of action movies.  Fantasy though, in still not nearly as mainstream, and apart from huge budget, high risk productions of the most famous of all fantasy books, (LOTR, Harry Potter, Twlight) I would guess they have yet to make it into the mainstream enough to justify a movie like ElfQuest.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m disappointed as I love ElfQuest, but the modern audience of the comic-books is probably tiny in comparison to how many average joes who know who the X-Men and Captain America are, or Bilbo Baggins.

      • toyg says:

        I’d struggle to find something more mainstream than fantasy, these days. LOTR+Hobbit, HP, Narnia, Shrek, Stardust, Golden Compass, more recently the new Snow-White — since special FX got good enough, not a year goes by without a couple of big-budget fantasy blockbusters hitting the screens… even a crappy film like The Last Airbender was actually *made* and marketed. 

        • adamnvillani says:

          Right, those movies were all made, hoping to catch the same market that LOTR and Harry Potter did. But The Last Airbender,  Stardust, and the Golden Compass were all big flops, and only the first Narnia movie was a big hit. Also a flop, at least in the U.S. market, was the Tintin movie.

          Movie studios used to think that any comic-book or fantasy movie would only have niche appeal. That was proven wrong, but only for some of the biggest, most mainstream properties within the genre. For properties that only have niche appeal, Hollywood still hasn’t figured out how to make a lot of money on them.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            Last Airbender cost $150 million, took in $320 million.
            Stardust cost $70 million, took in $156 million.
            Golden Compass cost $180 million, took in $372 million.
            Narnia: Prince Caspian cost $225 million, took in $420 million.
            Narnia: Dawn Treader cost $140 – 155 million, took in $416 million.

            Those five flops profited $900 million.

          • Halloween Jack says:

            Two things that you have to factor in, Antinous:

            1) Movie production costs don’t factor in marketing costs, which typically run about the same amount. So, take what each movie “cost” and double it.

            2) Making $12-15 million on a project may not seem like chump change to you or I, but the people who finance these movies are looking for much bigger returns on investment; the ROI for the Lord of the Rings trilogy or Avatar was in the billions.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            Those first figures are for ‘budget’, which as far as I know, includes marketing.

          • Todd Bradley says:

            I can’t reply to Antinous directly (since this commenting system has a comment depth limit), but Halloween Jack is right.  These budget numbers don’t include marketing.  It looks like you picked them up from IMDB, which lists only “negative cost” – the costs up through post-production.  See here for more: http://www.imdb.com/help/search?domain=helpdesk_faq&index=1&file=budget

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            I’m impressed that you found an answer on IMDb. They always seem to have every answer but the one that I’m looking for.

    • Halloween Jack says:

      All of the movies you list in your first para have a lot of name recognition outside of comics fandom; two of them are entries in already-successful movie franchises. Nobody, and I mean nobody, outside of comics fandom has heard of Elfquest, and for that matter, there’s quite a few people in comics fandom who haven’t.

      • AnthonyC says:

        I agree that that is probably the real reason. Why, then, did WB feel the need to say it was about similarity to The Hobbit? There are many better excuses available.

  8. shutz says:

    Actually, it’s probably BECAUSE it’s NOT ENOUGH like Twilight/True Blood/whatever fantasy fad is currently popular…

    It would be like passing on Firefly/Battlestar Galactica/Stargate Universe (or any space-based sci-fi series) because that’s too much like Star Trek / Star Wars. 

    And then turning around and producing three more series or movies (or series of movies!) about the current fantasy fad.  What are we at, now?  Werewolves, is it?

    • Stonewalker says:

      Hey, don’t hate on True Blood!  SOOKIIIE

    • 3240x says:

      Pepsi, what are you, nuts? It’s too much like Coke!

    • Shane Simmons says:

      I hate to say this, but…

      I thought SG-U was trying too hard to be “edgy” like BSG. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t much like it, but that was one of the complaints I saw about it. Stargate had always been campy, even the first movie, and SG-U ditched that for grit. I loved it (well, there was Elyse Levesque and her acting) but I guess I was in a minority.

      The excuse made by WB sounds lame.  It seems like every third movie right now is either a vampire movie or a zombie movie.  The number of “steampunk” movies is beginning to ratchet up a bit, too.  Please, Hollywood, don’t run that into the ground; the fanbase already did that.

  9. capnmarrrrk says:

    I try to stay away from Internet Hyperbole, but that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Geez WB, you suck.

  10. Layne says:

    This is actually wonderful news… Can we get more Hollywood studios to stop vomiting all over other great childhood memories? 

    Extremely high odds that this would have just been a slo-mo fighting, teen-star showcasing, awful soundtrack-featuring piece of dreck. Directed, of course, by the nameless guy who last helmed Saw 24 and “The Chipmunks Go Straight To Video”. 

    Next, they can leave Dr. Suess’ corpse resting peacefully, and stop trying to beat money out of it like a piñata…

    • scav says:

      Actually, every movie that Hollywood don’t make is wonderful news. Because *fuck* Hollywood, that’s why.

      Best film I’ve seen in the last year: Trolljegeren (the troll hunter). Second best, possibly the gigantic clusterfuck of madness that is Enthiran.  Practically every country in the world is making better movies than the US.  Maybe not Iran; you probably get executed for doing anything original there.

      The MPAA won’t stop trying to fuck up the internet until we ignore them to death, and it will be no hardship if the US film studios never shoot another reel.

      • SamSam says:

        Man, I fell right asleep during Troll Hunter. Maybe it was because the Brattle Theater where I watched it was over 9000ºF, and I was up on the balcony getting the most of the heat, but that movie just dragged on and on doing the same thing again and again.

        Grated, that same thing again and again was killing trolls, which was pretty neat, but really, once you’ve killed one troll you’ve killed them all.

    • Actually, the creators of Elquest have been trying to get it made into a film since the 80s. Maybe it’s not what you want to see, but it’s certainly what they want to see, and maybe that matters more.

      • Layne says:

        Sure, no begrudging them trying to transition to telling their story in a new medium. And I imagine they would also stand to make a healthy profit for a labor of love. 

        But with a story that complex and with those kind of adult themes, there’s no way in hell it would survive in the complex form the we came to know it in. Mind-melding space-elves having orgies? Hah hah!

        Hollywood execs just want a huge initial hit out of a multi-episode series. But they keep bungling the launch so goddamn badly that it kills things off before they even get started. Examples: Golden Compass, Lemony Snicket, Percy Jackson, C.S. Lewis, Disney rides, endless superhero reboots…  
        Not many franchises mange to secure someone like Peter Jackson or Benicio del Toro who respect the script and the story enough to make it solid. The code so far is just “acquire rights + film + add a shitload of CGI = PROFIT” 

        Assuming the movie ever got greenlit, it just seems like a ripe source of scorn for diehard fans who hate the sanitized version and newcomers who just think it’s a shitty movie about space elves. But as you say, it’s their prerogative to drive their franchise off a cliff – George Lucas didn’t have a problem doing it.

  11. hypersomniac says:

    Bullshit. Elfquest sounds awesome. And I don’t even use medical marijuana.

  12. semiotix says:

    feral descendants of space-faring space shifters and their quest to uncover the truth about their ancestors’ crash-landing on a primitive planet,

    It sounds like it’s too much like Thundercats, rather than The Hobbit. But yeah, either way, good for them for realizing you can’t improve on perfection! Perhaps the Sword of Omens gave someone at WB “sight beyond sight.”

  13. DreadJester says:

    Pretty lame excuse if you ask me.  Not as if Hollywood hasn’t made a million movies that are all alike already.

  14. secretagentmoof says:

    Isn’t this summary a massive spoiler?

  15. A. . says:

    Bleeding hot hobbit boner-dollars will set these wobbly studio execs straight.  The juicy pileup will ensue.  Martinis.

  16. capnmarrrrk says:

    Another think, from having worked in Advertising, I often think that the suits are actually physically incapable of seeing things from a creative point of view, much in the same way Conservatives and Liberals may have competing neural networks. Seriously though, fuck those guys.

  17. They cancelled it to punish the nerds on teh internetz because we made them drop their SOPA and PIPA.

    Yeah, that’s the ticket!

  18. gwailo_joe says:

    I’m with Skywise on this one: NBD.  I think I might have to add an F in there as well…

    As mentioned above, the chances of the powers-with-the-purse-strings turning something imaginative and special into a craptacular soul-less exercise in groan inducing dialogue and derivative CGI…is high.

    So go ahead and NOT make it, suits me: I been meaning to bust out my old WARPs anyways.

    Still, the argument on the face of it seems pretty stupid: The Hobbit is going to make a Dwarven Hoard of Ducats for somebody; the Heavens Forfend we should follow in the footsteps of a Billion dollar enterprise…

  19. Hmmm…  I am surprised that “Jaws” got filmed considering its scene for scene similarity to “Moby Dick”.

    • scav says:

      Actually, Jaws would have been improved by adding a bad-ass Eskimo guy and that whole bit with the whale penis.

      Incidentally, the MPAA are casting themselves in the role of Ahab. Which makes the internet Moby Dick I guess. Let’s see how that works out for them.

  20. Studiomiguel says:

    EQ is better off. I’d guess they were too afraid of the material. Dumbing it down to the lowest common denominator is going to take the heart out of the story and deliver a meh film. 

  21. skyhawk1 says:

    Please don’t let SYFY get their hands on it.

    • SyFy and Ghibli are the two “give it to…” suggestions that keep coming up, and both would be terrible ideas. Just ask Ursula K. LeGuin…

      • GrymRpr says:

        A reference to A&E’s remake of LeGuin’s/PBS’s Lathe of Heaven?

      • penguinchris says:

         I’m not really familiar with Elfquest but why do you think Ghibli would be wrong for it? Perhaps a different Japanese anime studio? Or do you just not think it should be animated… despite it coming from a comic book?

         @boingboing-d89bdf5c353a5be7da462c29e55a8d73:disqus  below essentially suggested that HBO should do an 18+ anime series of Elfquest. Is there some reason that a Japanese studio just wouldn’t do it right? It’s too fundamentally American or something?

        When I think of animated fantasy with “adult” elements (I don’t mean hentai), I can’t really think of anything that isn’t Japanese. I know it exists (there are a few movies I can think of) but it’s not quite on the same level.

        • Ghibli’s sensibilities and style are very different — the results would be to the source material as, say, Ghibli’s Earthsea is to LeGuin’s. Which is to say: pretty, but different.

          It would be like having Tarantino direct Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. It could be awesome! But it would not be anything John Le Carré ever thought up.

          • penguinchris says:

            I must say, having seen only the BBC miniseries of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy that I think it certainly would have been awesome if Tarantino had directed the new film (which I’m planning on seeing today, actually). After the success of Inglourious Basterds I do hope he makes more period films.

            Anyway – I agree that Studio Ghibli in particular isn’t a good idea if you have strong source material, as they have their own lovely art style which is quite different from the Elfquest stuff I’ve seen.

          • IronEdithKidd says:

            It would be like having Tarantino direct Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

            I would actually pay to see that at a movie theater. 

            Just sayin’, Hollywood. 

        • The idea of an animated miniseries is attractive to fans because it means the source material won’t get condensed and that the art style could be preserved. It’s always envisaged as HBO or the BBC because of their production standards.

          They could invent a time machine to fetch a 20-year old Yul Brynner from 1940 to play the main character, too!

          • jeligula says:

            I have yet to be entertained by anything from BBC.  Benny Hill and Monty Python are the exceptions that prove the rule, as they only illustrate what is possible when the talent has the final say. To the best of my knowledge, this environment has been extinct at the BBC for many years now.  Outside of my own personal world, I am probably wrong about this, but can only comment on my own experiences.

            I like and respect Wendy and Richard Pini and have talked with them quite a bit in the past.  They are truly great people.  I have a lot of their earliest works in the Elfquest world, but am not what you would call a diehard fan. Still, it would be a shame to see the movie done badly.  Some of us are still recovering from Ralph Bakshi’s Tolkien efforts.

    • unit_1421 says:

      SYFY is Comcast-owned, so no worry there.

  22. unit_1421 says:

    I’ve been an EQ fan for almost 30 years and been with them through the CBS “elf babies” debacle and the suit to get the rights back, the Pressman era and now this, so they’ll live to hunt another day. I’ve always hoped they would do an issue by issue animated series adaptation for HBO, which they could easily do for not so much money. What’s needed is a premium sf/fantasy channel for 18+ viewers, where EQ’s sensuality could fly free.

    WB isn’t dumb, they likely won’t give the rights back only to have the Pinis get a deal at Fox or Paramount. If they’re truly smart they’ll make it worth their while to wait another year or two before they green light it.

  23. Zac says:

    Since when does Hollywood NOT make something because it is similar to an established successful franchise?

    • Frederik says:

      Exactly, you always notice 2 or 3 movies that are verry similar release around the same time.
      Oh shit, that’s popular, now we have to have our own “insert genre here” movie.

  24. Marc Mielke says:

    Too bad about Elfquest; I’d actually hope a successful EF movie would get Wendy’s AWESOME treatment for an Elric movie made!

  25. Lemoutan says:

    If Hollywood just stopped, would anybody really care? What would be the economic impact of a total disappearance of that industry? Serious question.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Michael Bay turning tricks on Santa Monica Boulevard?  Kristen Stewart doing children’s birthday parties?

  26. Chappai says:

    In case anyone needs to catch up… all the Elfquest issues have been published online here, http://www.elfquest.com/gallery/OnlineComics3.html by the Pinis.

  27. webmonkees says:

    Well, folks, it’s also about what works you want Hollywood to mess with.  Perhaps this is a good thing.

    Meanwhile, Hangover 7 is in drafts, and I’m still awaiting The Restaurant at the end of the universe. And Terry Pratchet in in que ‘right after they finish Shrek’, ‘right after this sequel’, ‘right after this next sequel’, ‘right after this spinoff sequel’

    Not to mention that wardrobe would have to do something about ElfChest. Those berries must have steroids in them.

  28. Halloween Jack says:

    Count me in with the people who see this as a not-bad thing, as it would almost inevitably be buried in the mountains of hype that will be surrounding the Hobbit film(s).

  29. angusm says:

    They need the secret ingredient for Internet success: Samuel L. Jackson saying “I’ve had it with these motherfuckin’ elves on this motherfuckin’ quest.”

  30. Lobster says:

    Too much like The Hobbit… as opposed to ALL modern fantasy?

  31. Mister44 says:

    I am sure I am echoing many people when I say Hollywood is full of jackasses and idiots.

    You can read all the Elf Quest books online – the creators put them all up there. I confess I had next to zero interest reading them back when I collected comics. But I stumbled on the site one day and decided to read the first book. 3 days later and near zero work done, I read the whole first story arch. It was good. I really liked it.

    However – other than both have elves and take place on a planet – IT IS NOTHING LIKE THE HOBBIT. Jesus, pull your heads out of your asses. Go ahead, give more money to Michael Bay.

    Wait – I got it. They are fighting  piracy by making shit that is so bad, no one wants to download it. BRILLIANT!

  32. morrigan2 says:

    Fucking idiots.  Probably just as well – I’m sure that they’d screw it up.

  33. Jeremy Duncan says:

    That short description made me actually want to check out ElfQuest.  I never really picked it up as a kid or a teenager – the whole thing just looked uninteresting and twee to me, and I think Wendy Pini’s style struck my younger self as ‘soft’ and ‘feminine’ and therefore ElfQuest was ‘a comic for girls.’  

    I’ll have to take a look– especially since they’re online, now.  It wouldn’t be the first time I foolishly dismissed something awesome in my youth.

    • Tess says:

      Well, they do tend to be full of feeeeeeelings.  But a lot of those feelings have to do with fighting and hunting and blood and sex.  :)

  34. Tavie says:

    This is my new favorite idea, Fairlight. But HBO would have the same problem as any other major studio, right? They don’t get it, it’s too difficult, no one’s heard of it, etc. (Why did WB buy it in the first place, again…?)
    Argh. So frustrating.

  35. Baldhead says:

    I never read Elfquest so I’ll play the role of the WB exec here. They probably never read it except a glance- through either. But that glance led me to think that it is exactly the same sort of thing as LOTR. Elves, swords, goblin- looking thingys? Yup. And everyone else who never read it is going to think the exact same thing as well. But the core audience of elfquest was never huge, however loyal, whereas The Hobbit has LOTR as backup. If they want to do Elfquest well they have to put similar money into it with much less promise of a decent return. So Elfquest gets ditched.

  36. That_Anonymous_Coward says:

    They cancelled it to punish all of us for killing SOPA.

  37. Tess says:

    Hard for me to imagine an Elfquest movie that did the source any sort of justice and was rated…  oh, anything less than R.  

    R-rated fantasy with sexy feral elves?  Hmmm.  Sounds awesome.  Also does not sound mainstream…

  38. Brett Myers says:

    For those who can’t be bothered to click the link to the original article, the headline here is more than a little misleading. 

    Wendy Pini posted to Facebook:After close to four years of suspense – and longer than four years of your much-appreciated interest and support – the word has come down from Warner Bros. And the word is “no.” Their simple explanation is that they don’t want to compete with The Hobbit. This was a possibility, among several, that we were prepared for. It is a relief, at last, to know.

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