Embracer Group Has Acquired The IP Rights To The Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit, And More

Embracer Group Has Acquired The IP Rights To The Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit, And More

Embracer Group has announced the acquisition about six or seven things this afternoon, and we’ll talk about those in a moment, but right now, we need to talk about The Lord of the Rings.

Embracer has entered an agreement to acquire Middle-Earth Enterprises from The Saul Zaentz Company. It’s a big acquisition because it covers so much ground.

Here’s the whopper first paragraph from the announcement on Embracer’s website:

“Embracer Group AB (” Embracer”), through its wholly owned subsidiary Freemode, has entered into an agreement to acquire Middle-earth Enterprises, a division of The Saul Zaentz Company, which owns a vast intellectual property catalogue and worldwide rights to motion pictures, video games, board games, merchandising, theme parks and stage productions relating to the iconic fantasy literary works The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, as well as matching rights in other Middle-earth-related literary works authorized by the Tolkien Estate and HarperCollins, which have yet to be explored.”

What do you even say to an acquisition like this? When the news started to break on social media, all I could do for several minutes was stare at it, dumbfounded.

The Saul Zaentz Company has held the rights to The Lord of the Rings franchise for nearly fifty years. In 1976, Zaentz acquired certain rights from United Artists, who had purchased them directly from Tolkien. Zaentz would produce Ralph Bakshi’s famous animated Lord of the Rings film in 1978. The company retained those rights and acquired new ones, even after Zaentz died in 2014.

The Saul Zaentz Company went public with the news it intended to sell its Tolkien holdings in February.

Embracer now owns the rights to everything that isn’t explicitly Tolkien’s novels. Film, games, merchandising, all of it. If you’re wondering what this means for Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power, which is just about to kick off, it may not have much impact. Of all the rights Zaentz was able to secure, that of TV shows, longer than eight episodes, in particular, was not part of the deal. That may have been Prime Video’s way in.

The acquisition may also explain why characters from the Lord of the Rings, cherished by Warner Bros, haven’t appeared in its character brawler MultiVersus.

How much did Embracer pay for such a monumental slab of intellectual property, you ask? We don’t know! According to Embracer’s announcement, under the Purchase Price heading: “The parties have agreed not to disclose specific terms of the transaction due to commercial reasons.”

I will hazard a guess and suggest that it cost them a fortune. I’m sure I will be proven right on that.

Middle-Earth Enterprises only entered into a deal with New Zealand’s Wētā Workshop on a Lord of the Rings game earlier this week. Presumably, that deal was struck with this one borne foremost in mind.

Believe it or not, Who is among the other acquisitions Embracer announced today? Tripwire (ManEater, The Killing Floor), Tuxedo Labs (Teardown), vocal processing effects company Singtrix, Limited Run Games, and the creation of a new operating group, Embracer Freemode, to manage its rapidly expanding games portfolio. This all comes only months after Embracer acquired numerous Western studios from Square Enix’s portfolio as the Japanese publisher rushed to get in on web3.

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