The highly-valued intellectual property rights to J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings franchise are in the process of being acquired by one of the fastest-growing players in the entertainment business, the Embracer Group.
"I am truly excited to have The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, one of the world’s most epic fantasy franchises join the Embracer family, opening up more transmedia opportunities including synergies across our global group," says Embracer Group's founder/group CEO Lars Wingefors in a statement. "I am thrilled to see what lies in the future for this IP with Freemode and Asmodee as a start within the group. Going forward, we also look forward to collaborating with both existing and new external licensees of our increasingly stronger IP portfolio."
The Lord of the Rings intellectual rights being acquired here are for films, games, board games, theme park attractions, and stage productions. This deal was made by Embracer Group acquiring the film shingle Middle-earth Enterprises, which acquired these rights from the Tolkien family in the '70s.
If the deal goes through however, Embracer won't actually own Lord of the Rings or all the rights. The Tolkien family has continually retained ownership and the rights to the original prose stories. Warner Bros. (through its subsidiary New Line) also retain some film and TV rights they licensed from Middle-eath Enterprises in the '90s.
But don't worry, Embracer has many options. It can make its own Lord of the Rings films or TV shows (or license them out to other film studios). In fact, Embracer made it a point to float the idea in the announcement of the deal, specifically noting "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..."
It could also sign the long-rumored deal for Lord of the Rings-based theme park attractions, perhaps at the new Universal’s Epic Universe park that's being built.
And in-house, Embracer has even more options due to its ownership of numerous video game studios like THQ Nordic, the comic book publishing company Dark Horse Comics, and its board/card game company Asmodee - which already does a wealth of Tolkien projects.
Get ready for the new Lord of the Rings show with our guide to Amazon Prime's The Rings of Power.