Middle-earth Enterprises, the company that controls licensing rights to The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and other works by J.R.R. Tolkien in that universe, has been acquired by gaming giant Embracer Group. Embracer has entered into a deal with current owner The Saul Zaentz Company, which first acquired rights to The Lord of the Rings in 1976.
The Saul Zaentz Company has been considering selling off Middle-earth Enterprises since early this year, when industry insiders expected Amazon to be the most likely candidate to snap up IP rights. The Middle-earth properties were reportedly valued at at least $2 billion, though both parties have agreed not to disclose the final price decided upon for the sale, which grants Embracer “worldwide rights to motion pictures, video games, board games, merchandising, theme parks and stage productions,” based on Middle-earth.
Embracer will now have financial interest in all upcoming works involving Middle-earth, which there are a lot of. The press release points to Amazon’s massive Rings of Power TV series, which premieres on September 2 on Amazon Prime Video, Warner Bros.’ The War of the Rohirrim animated film, and EA’s upcoming mobile game Heroes of Middle-earth. There’s also Daedalic Entertainment’s Gollum game, and the ongoing development of MMO The Lord Of The Rings Online.
Embracer’s subsidary Asmodee has long been a licensee of the Middle-earth franchises, having published over a dozen board games and card games based on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
In the press release, the company has hinted at future plans for the franchise, saying that it’s looking to explore “additional movies based on iconic characters such as Gandalf, Aragorn, Gollum, Galadriel, Eowyn and other characters from the literary works of J.R.R. Tolkien.” For better or for worse, it seems likely Embracer is planning a cinematic universe around Lord of the Rings, following the formula Disney pioneered with the MCU.
This acquisition is just one of many made by Embracer this week, with a number of gaming companies and studios also snapped up.
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