Important and completely unexpected news in the entertainment industry. Embracer Group, one of today’s largest video game companies, has announced the acquisition of Middle-earth Enterprises, the company that owns and operates most of the intellectual property (IP) of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Its previous owner was Saul Zaentz. This figure, however, has not been made public, but we suspect that this is a sky-high deal.
Clearly, the acquisition of Embracer, which has been trying to expand its franchise catalog for the past few years, could spell the near future for The Lord of the Rings. Attention, because this acquisition affects not only the brand’s presence in the world of video games, but also in films and other entertainment products.
Because the universe created by J.R.R.R. Tolkien is vast, the management of intellectual property in The Lord of the Rings is deliberately divided into many categories. However, as mentioned above, Embracer has taken control of almost all of the intellectual property, with the exception of the publication of literary works, which remains on the Tolkien Estate. Here is what the company gets after opening the wallet:
- Franchise rights for video games and board games.
- Film rights to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Also a multi-episode television series not exceeding four episodes.
- Merchandising rights, including services such as hotels and restaurants.
- Rights to create amusement parks.
- Rights to create plays or other live performances based on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
- Rights to adapt any government-approved literary work of Tolkien. These include The Silmarillion and The Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-earth.
Obviously, the last point is the most important of all. Why ? Because any production company that wants to create a film or TV series based on the works of Tolkien will have to contact the Embracer Group office to negotiate a license.
Maybe at this point you are wondering if this is affecting Rings of Power? The Lord of the Rings series from Prime Video? Well, there’s a lot of confusion here. Middle-earth Enterprises did get involved in the licensing issue, but Embracer notes that its acquisition only covers series no longer than four episodes. That way, Amazon wouldn’t have to renegotiate the rights it acquired years ago. Hope they clear this up soon.
The future of Lord of the Rings
What happens from now on? Basically, Embracer can explore a lot of stories about different products. Their specialty is, of course, video games, but there will definitely be film companies interested in negotiating new films. In fact, Embracer itself indicates that it is exploring the possibility of developing films centered on characters such as Gandalf, Aragorn, Gollum, Galadriel or Eowyn, to name but a few. Yes, the possibilities are almost endless.
Embracer didn’t spend several million dollars to keep… The Lord of the Rings in storage. We can then expect the company to green-light several adaptations in the coming years. The gold mine will not extract itself.
“I am thrilled that The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, one of the most epic fantasy franchises in the world, are joining the Embracer family, which opens up more transmedia opportunities, including the synergy of our entire global group,” said Lars Wingefors, CEO . and founder of the Embracer Group.
It should be noted that the Lord of the Rings IP will not be managed directly by the Embracer Group, but by its subsidiaries Freemode and Asmodee. “In the future, we also look forward to working with new and existing third-party licensees for our growing IP portfolio,” he concludes.
Embracer didn’t just announce the purchase of Middle-earth Enterprises. They also acquired several video game companies such as Tripwire Interactive, Limited Run Games, Tuxedo Labs and Singtrix. Also, he mentions that they have made another big acquisition but will officially announce it later. Last May, the group acquired Western Studios from Square Enix, giving it the rights to the following franchises: Tomb Raider, Deus Ex, Thief and Kain’s Legacy.