THE battle over Southampton's famous pub, The Hobbit, could be over, the Daily Echo understands.

The Saul Zaentz Company, which contacted owners Punch Tavern about the Bevois Valley pub's use of The Hobbit brand has told the Daily Echo the row has been a misunderstanding.

Film producer Paul Zaentz has told the Echo he does not necessarily want to remove all reference to Tolkien's work and "certainly doesn't want to run anyone out of business."

He wants to resolve the dispute "amicably" and suggested the pub could be asked to pay a nominal licence fee of $100 a year - about £63.

Mr Zaentz said: “We’ve tried to be very gracious. We think asking for a nominal licence fee is very reasonable.

"Rather than engage in protracted and expensive litigation, (we) would prefer to resolve this matter amicably.

"We said we would be willing to consider any proposition they might make, but to my knowledge we’ve had no response yet."

Mr Zaentz contacted the Echo after the campaign to save the pub garnered worldwide attention, with backing from Stephen Fry and Sir Ian McKellen, who both appear in the upcoming The Hobbit movie.