The Asylum was once like any other low budget movie studio; however, its business model drastically changed after the 2005 direct-to-DVD release, H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds. That particular film hit the home video market around the same time as Steven Spielberg's The War of the Worlds. Confusion ensued. Blockbuster, INC. actually ordered 100,000 copies of The Asylum's film thinking they were getting Spielberg's. And lo, the modern mockbuster bonanza began.
Post-The War of the Worlds, The Asylum devoted most of its time to producing similar films (Transmorphers, The Day the Earth Stopped, Snakes on a Train). You’ve probably seen their work lining the shelves of your local video store or Redbox screen. It wasn’t until this year’s American Battleships, their take on Universal Studios’ Battleship, that they experienced their first bit of legal trouble. Universal filed a lawsuit that resulted in The Asylum being forced to re-title their film American Warships. It looks like the studio’s latest production, Age of the Hobbits, may suffer the same fate.
Last month, all studios that have a state in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – MGM, New Line Cinema and Warner Brothers – filed a lawsuit against The Asylum hoping to prevent the release of Age of the Hobbits. They scored a minor victory yesterday in the form of a temporary restraining order granted by a California federal judge. Now, Age of the Hobbits officially can’t be released until the lawsuit’s day in court, January 28, 2013. It was to originally be released today.
Perhaps this second lawsuit will be incentive enough for the studio to begin producing original material. Should they continue down their current path, the inmates could quite literally end up running The Asylum. I can’t believe it took me three paragraphs to get to that joke.