The IP rights for “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien are moving. On Thursday, Swedish gaming company Embracer announced they have entered a deal to acquire the legendary fantasy series.
“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,” Lars Wingefors, Founder and Group CEO Embracer Group, said 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.”
The rights to the titles were previously owned by The Saul Zaentz Company, after acquiring them from the heirs and estate of J.R.R. Tolkien and HarperCollins Publishers in 1976. (The latter of whom still maintains the print publication rights to both titles).
The Saul Zaentz Company went on to produce an animated version of ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ directed by Ralph Bakshi and released in 1978. In 1998, the company licensed the rights to New Line Cinema, which, of course, led to Peter Jackson’s live-action trilogies of both “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit.”
“We at the Zaentz Company have had the honor over the past half century of stewarding the Tolkien rights so that Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fans worldwide could enjoy award winning epic films, challenging video games, first rate theatre and merchandise of every variety. We could not be more thrilled that it is Embracer now taking up the responsibility and we are confident their group will take it to new heights and dimensions while maintaining homage to the spirit of these great literary works,“ Marty Glick, COO of The Saul Zaentz Company, said in a statement.
Going forward, Embracer will have the worldwide rights to any future movies, video games, board games, merchandising, theme parks and stage productions related to or based on “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and “The Hobbit,” as well as matching rights in any other Middle Earth-related literary works that may come to be.
According to Embracer, “Other opportunities include exploring additional movies based on iconic characters such as Gandalf, Aragorn, Gollum, Galadriel, Eowyn and other characters.”