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Hey folks, Harry here.... According to Variety New Line Cinema has picked up the domestic distribution for DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS.... Obviously... this will now play into the pre-hype for LORD OF THE RINGS, which they will inevitably attach a special trailer to this film for release. This is an example of smart thinking on the part of a studio... locking up the only similar themed project on the horizon, then releasing it so it can tap the entire fan base for their larger investment item.... LORD OF THE RINGS... But this is very good news as it was uncertain whether or not this film would get domestic distribution as its Warners deal didn't seem to be working due to complications. Well... there ya have it...


Greetings, dungeon denizens! ROBOGEEK here with a follow-up, which should give you more to chew on in Talk Back. First of all, it's well worth noting that (according to Variety and USA Today) New Line paid only a tad more than $5 million (read: chump change) to not only distribute the $36 million D&D film in the U.S., but to also lock up options on a sequel and prequel, as well as other ancillary rights (i.e. TV, etc.). Such a minimal investment certainly doesn't qualify as a ringing endorsement, and represents negligible financial risk.

Furthermore, according to their own press release, New Line plans a year-end release, which seems kind of rushed, given that it doesn't nearly allow enough time to put in place all the potential licensing deals. Previous reports indicated the producers were hoping for a late spring/early summer 2001 release to accommodate this, but apparently couldn't find any takers (i.e. Warners). So, yes, it does seem that New Line's preemptive acquisition of D&D mirrors Fox's strategy in acquiring "Wing Commander" vis-a-vis "Episode I" two years ago.

If you're curious, below is the official press release from New Line (courtesy of our pal Xoanon at, which puts an... interesting spin on things. (I love how they compare it to "Mortal Kombat" -- and not "Lord of the Rings.")

- Robogeek


(Los Angeles, August X, 2000) -- New Line Cinema has acquired domestic distribution rights to Dungeons and Dragons: The Movie, it was jointly announced today by acquisitions chief Mark Ordesky, President of Fine Line Features, as well as producer/director Courtney Solomon of Sweetpea Entertainment.

Based on the classic role-playing fantasy-adventure game, the film, which is budgeted at $36 million, is executive produced by Joel Silver (The Matrix), and currently in post-production. New Line will release the project by the end of the year.

Dungeons and Dragons is one of the best-known fantasy titles in existence.

The game has generated more than a billion dollars in sales worldwide, including the publication of more than 400 novels. D & D products have been translated into 18 different languages and are still a fast-selling commodity. Leading toy maker Hasboro is in the process of launching a 25th Anniversary line of products.

"For millions of people worldwide, Dungeons and Dragons has been the penultimate fantasy game for more than 25 years, and this film will deliver for die-hard fans as well as those who have never been exposed to this epic world of magic, sorcery and adventure," Ordesky said. "Courtney has done a phenomenal job translating Dungeons and Dragons on film and we look forward to working with him and Joel Silver as we release this feature into the marketplace."

Nearly three generations of consumers have grown up on the game, totaling more than 25 million aficionados worldwide. "Beyond the new fans who are entertained by the game today, there is an incredible nostalgia factor to this title and we hope to capture and rekindle their imagination with this acquisition," Ordesky added.

According to web traffic data, a legion of fans are eager for news about the film. The unofficial website promoting the project, DNDMOVIE.COM, has received more than 1.5 million hits since launching last November, and the site continues to generate unusual levels of press and consumer interest.

In addition, members of the cast are already supporting the film as they appear this weekend in Milwaukee at Gen Con, the country's largest convention of D & D devotees. At the convention, it is expected that 50,000 fans will have the opportunity to get a first-look at teaser promotional footage from the film.

New Line will begin developing a marketing, distribution and publicity campaign immediately to support a year-end launch. "With New Line's great track record releasing genre films, and their experience with The Lord of the Rings, I think they are the perfect match for Dungeons and Dragons," said producer/director Courtney Solomon.

Added Rolf Mittweg, Co-Chairman of Worldwide Marketing: "Like Mortal Kombat and other fantasy/adventure franchises, this is the kind of programming that New Line has traditionally excelled with."

In the film, which stars Jeremy Irons, Thora Birch (American Beauty), Marlon Wayans (Scary Movie) Justin Whalin ("The New Adventures of Lois and Clark") and Richard O'Brien (Rocky Horror Picture Show) among others, a rag tag group of adventurers seek to foil the plans of an evil wizard.

In addition to landing domestic distribution rights, New Line has secured an option to make a potential prequel and sequel, as well as other ancillary platforms including cable, pay and network television.

Along with Ordesky, New Line's Vice President of Acquisitions Arianna Bocco was responsible for landing the rights to the project. New Line's Senior Vice President of Business Affairs Suzanne Rosencrans negotiated the agreement on behalf of the studio. Solomon is represented by attorney Sheri Jeffrey as well as Joe Gatta and David Gersh at the Gersh Agency. At Silver Pictures, the project was brought in and overseen by Steve Richards.

Solomon is a first-time filmmaker who began developing the concept for Dungeons and Dragons: The Movie while still in high school. A native of Toronto, Canada, he optioned the film rights to the project from TSR, Inc. when he was 21 years-old. Thereafter he secured the interest of Hong Kong-based financier Allan Zeman, who funded the project.

Solomon currently has several other projects in development, including a film adaptation of the best-selling comic book "Gen 13" as well as The Bell Witch, The Herald, and Puppetland, a computer generated live-action feature.

Joel Silver is one of the most successful producers in the motion picture industry, with the combined gross of his films tallying more than $3 billion.

With the success of The Matrix, 14 of Silver's films have earned worldwide box-office totals over $100 million. The others are the Lethal Weapon series I-IV, Die Hard and Die Hard 2: Die Harder, Predator, Commando, 48 Hours, The Last Boy Scout, Demolition Man, Conspiracy Theory, and Executive Decision.

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