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Thread: Rumour: Are Universal Planning A Middle Earth Theme Park?

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    Default Rumour: Are Universal Planning A Middle Earth Theme Park?

    [caption id="attachment_217574" align="alignright" width="350"] The sign for the Green Dragon pub in Matamata.[/caption]

    On hearing rumours of a Middle Earth theme park I immediately doubted such a thing would ever come into being, largely as the Tolkien Estate are known to be very particular about how the works of JRR are merchandised and commercially exploited.

    For example, they have very recently filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros. and the Saul Zentz company over "online fruit machines" with Middle Earth movie tie-in branding.

    Nonetheless,Mice Chat's report on the possible theme parks claim that the Tolkien family have been approached and are even close to agreeing a deal. They say:
    Why Universal? How did they land yet another successful literary film franchise? Don?t think that their expert handling of J.K. Rowling?s Harry Potter universe had little to do with it. In fact, Rowling seems to have even had a hand in convincing the Tolkien family that Universal Creative was the way to bring Middle Earth to life.
    Hmm. This might be asking me to believe just a little too much for now.

    The One Ring also link to a forum with comments predating Mice Chat's story.
    Universal askedWarner Bros. to approach the Tolkien family since the Tolkien's trust WB with the success of the LOTR series. WB described how Universal was willing to work withJK Rowlingand how the 2 of them (WB and JK) held Universal's feet to the fire to uphold Rowling's vision of the IP. And I believe that the Tolkien's may have actually talked to JK Rowling. This was before Universal said a word to the Tolkien's. So after WB stoked the fire, Universal entered the picture with an impressive plan.As of now there is a lot of hammering out to go, but Universal has gotten a lot farther than Disney ever did.
    That story seems to fall apart right away. The Tolkiens trust Warner Bros.? Really?

    I don't know if there's any credibility to these reports at all, but it's an interesting rumour. I'll go on doubting there's any substance to it, mind, unless somebody I trust speaks up, or some actual evidence arrives.

    At the same time, I don't think it's impossible -The Hollywood Reporter's story on the fruit machine case does make it clear that Warner Bros. have the rights to "tangible" merchandising and theme parks are pretty darn tangible.

    There's already a Middle Earth attraction of some kind, too, with the Green Dragon pub in Matamata, New Zealand, replicating a Hobbiton drinking hole right where Peter Jackson filmed the Shire scenes for the movies.

    If that pub cut through the red tape, then I'd believe a theme park could be developed... it's just that these particular reports, with their JK Rowling subplots and all, seem like tall stories to me.

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    Maybe they'll actually do it. Ideas like this are floated all the time. In 1995 someone in Universal publicity told me that they were going to build a replica of Jurassic Park in Florida, but it never happened. Just the more scaled down Jurassic Park adventure ride.

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    Bleeding Cool Matt Krotzer's Avatar
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    If they rip out the Marvel Island and the Jurassic Park area (which is incredibly outdated), they could bring back the Jaws ride and make an awesome LOTR park that would nestle up nicely against Hogwarts and the Harry Potter area. (Hogwarts on one side, Helms Deep on the other? Works for me!)

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    I loved the Harry Potter one, so I would go to this so hard.

    The Dr. Suess one is fantastic too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimvanhise View Post
    Maybe they'll actually do it. Ideas like this are floated all the time. In 1995 someone in Universal publicity told me that they were going to build a replica of Jurassic Park in Florida, but it never happened. Just the more scaled down Jurassic Park adventure ride.
    There's actually a whole Jurassic Park 'island' - just like the Harry Potter area. There's the Discovery Centre which is just like the main building in the film, a pteradon ride, Camp Jurassic play area, etc. its actually very good and less dated than the Jaws ride...

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Krotzer View Post
    If they rip out the Marvel Island and the Jurassic Park area (which is incredibly outdated), they could bring back the Jaws ride and make an awesome LOTR park that would nestle up nicely against Hogwarts and the Harry Potter area. (Hogwarts on one side, Helms Deep on the other? Works for me!)
    The Marvel area has two of the best rides in Florida and looks brilliant. Also, its not next to the Jurassic Park area (not that I'd want them to remove that either). I'd prefer them to build a Middle Earth area in the space where Jaws and Amity used to be instead of yet more Potter stuff. But Potter does seem to be very successful, so I'm in the minority.

    Last year Universal was asking visitors to their parks what sort of expansions they'd like to see. Middle Earth was one of the suggested options (I think a Twilight area was also mentioned?).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nimbus View Post
    There's actually a whole Jurassic Park 'island' - just like the Harry Potter area. There's the Discovery Centre which is just like the main building in the film, a pteradon ride, Camp Jurassic play area, etc. its actually very good and less dated than the Jaws ride...



    The Marvel area has two of the best rides in Florida and looks brilliant. Also, its not next to the Jurassic Park area (not that I'd want them to remove that either). I'd prefer them to build a Middle Earth area in the space where Jaws and Amity used to be instead of yet more Potter stuff. But Potter does seem to be very successful, so I'm in the minority.

    Last year Universal was asking visitors to their parks what sort of expansions they'd like to see. Middle Earth was one of the suggested options (I think a Twilight area was also mentioned?).
    I'm pretty sure the Marvel license runs out at Universal in 2014... and I'm quite certain that despite claims of ongoing civility, they're none to pleased to be sending money down the street to the mouse-eared folks any longer than they have to. I suspect that whatever they put into the Marvel area next will likely retain those same rides and just repurpose them to whatever license is applied. (The Mines of Moria Death Drop?)

    And the Jurassic Park area feels very much like the 90s. The attractions need an overhaul, if they're planning to keep it around. At this point, remaking the old Jaws/Amity area could have a cool, vintage feel to it, rather than feeling simply dated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Krotzer View Post
    I'm pretty sure the Marvel license runs out at Universal in 2014... and I'm quite certain that despite claims of ongoing civility, they're none to pleased to be sending money down the street to the mouse-eared folks any longer than they have to. I suspect that whatever they put into the Marvel area next will likely retain those same rides and just repurpose them to whatever license is applied. (The Mines of Moria Death Drop?)
    Nope. Universal has the rights to the current Marvel characters featured at the Islands of Adventure, plus their associated families and groups, east of the Mississippi for as long as they want. There is no end date. Unless, of course, Disney was willing to give Universal a huge heap of cash to buy back the rights.

    And I think Universal are very happy to have a themed area relating to one of the biggest-selling movies of all time in its parks (and paying very little for that privilege - the deal was done way before Disney bought Marvel and when Marvel was in financial trouble). Every time Disney or Sony put out a new Captain America or Spider-Man film, Universal can point to Marvel Island and say "Hey, come to our park to meet these characters and experience their rides". Free publicity!

    Plus, Universal gets to make some money from selling Disney merchandise. Whereas Disney doesn't sell any Marvel merchandise in its Florida parks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nimbus View Post
    Nope. Universal has the rights to the current Marvel characters featured at the Islands of Adventure, plus their associated families and groups, east of the Mississippi for as long as they want. There is no end date. Unless, of course, Disney was willing to give Universal a huge heap of cash to buy back the rights.
    Do you have a source or link for that? I have a hard time believing any contract in the last 50 years was done with out an end date or at least without an exit. There has to be some sort of exit clause that Marvel could exercise, such as written notice within X amount of time ends the contract.

    I have executed several Letters of Credit that have no end date, but if I provide written notice within 60 days of the anniversary date, I can cancel it.

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    the neck-bearded will get in free

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nimbus View Post
    Plus, Universal gets to make some money from selling Disney merchandise. Whereas Disney doesn't sell any Marvel merchandise in its Florida parks.
    Yes they do.

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