Video Game Super-Publisher Purchases Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit Rights

Video Game Super-Publisher Purchases Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit Rights ...

The Embracer Group, a group that is slowly buying any and every video game publisher and studio on the market, just announced that it has purchased Middle-earth Enterprises, the company that owns the majority of J.R.R. Tolkiens' most important works, including the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

Middle-earth Enterprises used to be a division of The Saul Zaentz Company, a Hollywood film studio that in 1976 bought the rights to pretty much everything to do with Tolkien except the publication of the books themselves. Those rights were used to make the 1978 animated film, but have only since been sold to other businesses.

Everything from Peter Jackson's films to EA's video games were only limited to licensing the Lord of the Rings. (Amazons upcoming TV series, meanwhile, relied on a loophole that excluded a TV series of more than eight episodes being included within Zaentz' rights.) Final ownership remained with The Saul Zaentz Company, and covered a vast intellectual property catalogue and worldwide rights to the iconic fantasy literary works The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit by J.R.

Or, it did. Until now.

The Saul Zaentz Company sold their rights to Embracer for $2 billion earlier this year, and while the price they paid was not disclosed in their letter, you'd assume the price they paid would be somewhere in the middle. [Update: in a separate article, Embracer say the total cost for all of their acquisitions they made today was SEK8.2 billion, which is around USD$770 million].

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Beyond the publishing of the Lord of the Rings books, as announced in the press release, the purchase covers pretty much everything you'd associate with the series, including:

The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim (Warner Bros), which is set to release in 2024, and the mobile game The Lord of the Rings: Heroes of Middle-earth (Electronic Arts) are among the most anticipated Amazon series.

Embracer does not have to cancel or reassign any existing Lord of the Rings rights agreements by purchasing Middle-earth Enterprises. This is how the Peter Jackson trilogy was created, for example,and the upcoming anime is clearly unaffected since it is specifically highlighted in the Embracers announcement.

In the press release, Embracer discusses what it might do with the license in the future:

Additional opportunities include exploring other films based on famous characters like Gandalf, Aragorn, Gollum, Galadriel, Eowyn, and others from J.R.R. Tolkien's literary works, as well as continuing to provide additional opportunities for fans to explore this fictive world through merchandising and other experiences.

You can expect a lot of board games to follow Embracer's lead, both in terms of video game studios and board game company Asmodee (who in turn own Fantasy Flight).

It would not be an Embracer announcement without the news that, along with the acquisition of Middle-earth Enterprises, the company also purchased a host of other items today, including physical copy specialists Limited Run Games, Tripwire Interactive (Killing Floor, Chivalry), Tuxedo Labs (Teardown), and, in a strangely poetic move, Japanese studio Tatsujin. Their boss is Masahiro Yuge, the creator of Zero Wing, the game from which we all got the All