In the countersuit filed by Sweetpea Entertainment against Hasbro over the rights to the Dungeons & Dragons movie, a detailed history sheds some light on Courtney Solomon's relationship with the D&D brand. It also reveals some telling details about how the sub-par Dungeons & Dragons movie came about:
Growing up in Toronto, Canada, Courtney Solomon had been an enthusiast of Dungeons & Dragons. In 1990, when he was only 19 years old, Solomon wanted to turn Dungeons & Dragons into a feature film or television program. After making a few phone calls, Solomon discovered, to his surprise, that no one had acquired the motion picture rights to Dungeons & Dragons...Solomon formed the corporation Sweetpea Entertainment Corporation (“SEC”) on or about April 6, 1990, to serve as a fully active production company specializing in live-action motion pictures, especially with respect to Dungeons & Dragons. Solomon and John Benitz held the majority shares. During its first year of operations, SEC devoted the majority of its energy to obtaining the universal rights to the Dungeons & Dragons trademark and property.
Solomon met with TSR, and proposed a plan to bring Dungeons & Dragons to the theaters, which entailed, among other things, Solomon obtaining funding, producing the film and finding a director. Although TSR had solicited and received offers to option the Dungeons & Dragons property in the past, no one in the film industry had expressed any serious interest. It was also hugely important to TSR, a company created solely to publish Dungeons & Dragons materials, that whoever ended up licensing the rights to Dungeons & Dragons have a passion for the game, and a serious intention to turn the property into a motion picture. At first, TSR had little interest in Solomon’s proposal. Over the course of two years, however, after attending several meetings and sending TSR proposal after proposal, Solomon impressed TSR with his seriousness and level of commitment and the parties proceeded to make a deal.
Solomon himself provides a slightly less positive spin on the events in an interview with Geoffrey Kleinman on DVDTalk:
It was an idea that I had when I was twenty. I used to play the game and I loved it. I grew up in the film business and I was ready to make my journey to Hollywood and start my career, from Toronto. I made some cold calls and nobody had the rights at that point. They had talked to a lot of different people in studios and big film makers and that sort of stuff, but they were never really comfortable making a deal with those people. I guess mainly because they didn't feel they'd have enough control. The lady that owned the company at that point was a real "control freak" if you will. It's owned by Hasbro now. Long story short, initially they weren't going to give me the rights either. They sort of laughed me out the door because I was so young. I wasn't saying that I was actually going to be the filmmaker at that point, I was saying that I would just produce it, get the money together and find the filmmaker to do it, which is the route I went with for many, many, many years until finally we went and did it ourselves.
The "lady that owned the company" is the notorious Lorraine Williams, an American businesswoman who was in charge of the gaming company TSR, Inc. from 1986 to 1997.
See the photos to learn just how Sweetpea Entertainment unwillingly ended up making the D&D movie.
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