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‘D&D’ Trial Begins

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The trial to decide who owns the movie rights to Dungeons & Dragons opened in federal court in Los Angeles Tuesday, with the two sides introducing their cases, as reported by Deadline.  The case, which began in May 2013, will turn on the question of whether Sweetpea Entertainment, which had the D&D movie license since TSR was an independent company (two acquisitions ago), satisfied the “use it or lose it” clause in the contract with its 2010 Syfy movie based on Book of Vile DarknessDungeons & Dragons owner (Hasbro subsidiary) Wizards of the Coast moved to suit when it looked like Sweetpea was going to make a film with Warner Bros. based on Chainmail, a precursor to D&D.
 
The judge ruled that Chainmail would have been an infringement had it been made, but in the meantime Sweetpea signed a multimillion dollar deal with Warners to make a new D&D movie this summer.  Warners even kicked in around a million dollars for legal fees in the battle with Hasbro, which wants to make a movie with Universal, making this what Deadline called a “proxy war” between Warner Bros. and Universal.
  
It looked for a while like the two sides were moving toward a settlement, but talks apparently broke down and the case was scheduled for trial.
 
The two sides presented their positions on Tuesday (i.e., Book of Vile Darkness was/was not a film sequel), and in the process got in an exchange about Hasbro/Wizards of the Coast’s plans for the property if it prevailed.  Hasbro wants the rights back so it can “sell it to their new best buddy, Universal,” Sweetpea’s attorney argued; but “Hasbro has no agreement with Universal,” Hasbro’s attorney replied.  That’s surprising, given that Hasbro said back in 2013 that it had a D&D movie set up at Universal with Chris Morgan to direct.  Hasbro does have an umbrella deal with Universal.

Witnesses began testifying today, and the trial will continue through the week.

Elite: Dangerous Launch Pricing and Preorder Bonus

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Frontier Developments announces launch pricing for Elite: Dangerous along with word on pre-order bonuses for the space combat game. Word is the final release version, due by the end of this year, will cost £39.99/$59.99/€49.99 on the Frontier Online Store, though this is discounted to £35.00/$50.00/€40.00 for preordering, which also includes additional bonuses they call the Mercenary Edition. To further complicate things, they also note that those who have already preordered the final version or backed the alpha or beta will also receive the preorder bonuses along with an additional £4.99 discount. “We are hugely appreciative of everyone who has demonstrated their support for the game by backing it through the early development phase or pre-ordering the game prior to release,” says David Braben, CEO of Frontier. “Without those people, Elite: Dangerous would not be at the stage it is today. The Mercenary Pack is our way of rewarding them before we release the game.” Here’s a new Elite: Dangerous TV Spot and here’s word on the Mercenary Edition:

The Elite: Dangerous Mercenary Edition is loaded with digital extras. As well as a digital download copy of the game, the pack contains:

  • An additional Eagle fighter ship docked in a secondary location in-game
  • Exclusive pack of ship paint schemes
  • A ‘Day One’ ship decal
  • A digital players guide
  • A digital concept art book
  • Plus additional in-game benefits and other digital goodies to be announced over the coming weeks.

‘Guardians’ Tops Box Office for the 4th Time

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In its sixth weekend of release James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy topped the box office for the fourth time, a feat that only The Dark Knight, Avatar, and The Hunger Games have been able to accomplish in the past decade.  However, it must be said that Guardians is accomplishing this feat against pretty weak competition—this weekend’s box office was down 25% from the same frame last year when Riddick opened with $19 million.  The weekend after Labor Day is traditionally one of the worst movie-going frames of the year, but the overall gross, estimated at $63.9 million is the worst for this weekend since 2000, and given ticket price inflation it means that Hollywood just had one of its worst weekends in a long, long time.

Guardians’ latest triumph was expected—the only new film to open this weekend, the Christian-themed The Identical, bowed at #11—but it still reinforces the magnitude of the achievement by Marvel Studios in launching a new franchise that is not only successful, but the #1 film of the summer.  Guardians is shedding theaters now (down 241 this weekend), but it still managed the best per-screen average (#3,154) of any film on over 100 screens.  Guardians, which dropped 40%, but still earned $10.2 million over the weekend, is the #1 film of the year in North America so far with $294.6 million, and will be over the $300 million mark by this time next week.  Guardians has now earned more than Man of Steel ($291 million), making it the highest grossing domestic superhero film ever that didn’t feature Iron Man, Spider-Man, or Batman.  The Hunger Games Mockingjay, Part I will quite possibly earn more here in the domestic market, but for a new franchise, Guardians’ performance has been simply brilliant. 

A Thunderous New Era Begins – Your First Look at THOR #1!

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It’s the story that has been seen the world over, and today Marvel is proud to present your very first look inside THOR #1, the new series from New York Times-bestselling writer Jason Aaron (Original Sin, Thor: God of Thunder) and rising star artist Russell Dauterman (Cyclops)! Prepare for an all-new era of the God of Thunder as a brand new female hero explodes into the Marvel Universe!

The great hammer Mjölnir lies on the surface of the moon, unable to be lifted by anyone in all the heavens – even the Mighty Thor! Something dark has befallen the Thunder God, leaving him unworthy and unable to lift his magic hammer. With an army of Frost Giants invading Earth, the Odinson may not have the strength to stop them – and the hammer will be lifted by an all-new Thor! A mysterious woman unlike any Thor we’ve ever seen before!

“This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is Thor. This is the Thor of the Marvel Universe. But it’s unlike any Thor we’ve ever seen before,” says writer Jason Aaron.

Launching as part of the Avengers NOW! initiative, Thor is the first of an exciting wave of titles that push the Marvel Universe forward in exciting new directions! Prepare for a Marvel Universe like you’ve never seen it before as the biggest creators in the industry bring you bold new stories featuring the most popular characters!

Who is this mysterious new God of Thunder? Not even Odin knows! No fan can afford to miss the comic that has everyone talking. Prepare for a senses-shattering new beginning as the all-new Thor thunders her way through the Marvel Universe this October in THOR #1!

World of Warcraft’s Robin Williams Tribute Is Just Great

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Meet Robin, the World of Warcraft tribute to legendary actor Robin Williams, who passed away last month.

This re-creation of Williams’ iconic Aladdin genie is just one of the multiple tributes to the beloved actor that the folks at Wowhead have discovered in Blizzard’s popular MMORPG over the past few weeks. There are also references to Mork, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Toys, among others.

Last month, Wowhead’s data-miners found files and assets for Robin Williams references in the game’s code, but now, they’ve actually found the tribute in-game.

One Wowhead reader said they found the above genie on an island near Talador in the beta for WoW’s next expansion, Warlords of Draenor. It’s pretty much perfect. Says Wowhead: “You can summon Robin by rubbing the Ever-Burning Lamp. When first summoned, he exclaims ‘INFINITE COSMIC POWER’ and then shrinks and waves goodbye, saying ‘itty bitty living space.'”

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