Swedish video game and media company Embracer Group has acquired Middle Earth Enterprises , a division of The Saul Zaentz Company that owns all of JRR Tolkien ‘s works . Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed but it was previously estimated that the company’s value was at least $ 2 billion.
Embracer Group has acquired the worldwide rights to: films, books, theatrical productions, video games, board games, theme parks and merchandise related to Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit franchises .
Added to these are the “matching rights” to other literary works related to Middle-earth and authorized by the Tolkien Estate and HarperCollins , “which have not yet been explored”. Such as The Silmarillion and The Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-earth , two collections published after the writer’s death in 1973.
Middle-Earth Enterprises will be part of the new Embracer Freemode operating group , the company will continue to operate independently under the current leadership of Middle-Earth Enterprises.
Embracer is interested in potential:
“Films based on iconic characters, such as Gandalf, Aragorn, Gollum, Galadriel, Eowyn and other characters from JRR Tolkien’s literary works”. It also wants to provide: “New opportunities for fans to explore this fictional world through merchandising and other experiences.”
The main activity of the holding, based in Karlstad in Sweden, is the production of games for PC and consoles. Embracer already holds the license to publish board and card games based on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit with its subsidiary Asmodee Group.
This is the second high-profile acquisition that Embracer has completed in the past 12 months. In December 2021, it acquired the independent comic book company Dark Horse – publisher of Hellboy, The Umbrella Academy and hundreds of other titles.
In addition to the agreement with Middle-earth Enterprises, Embracer announced other acquisitions yesterday. These include deals for US game developer and publisher Tripwire Interactive , known for Maneater and the Killing Floor and Rising Storm series; and for Swedish game developer Tuxedo Labs , known for Teardown.
Lars Wingefors, founder and CEO of the Embracer Group , said:
“I am very excited that ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’, one of the most epic fantasy franchises in the world, are joining the Embracer family, opening up additional broadcast opportunities and including synergies across our global group.
I am excited to see the future of this IP with Freemode and Asmodee to start within the group. In the future, we look forward to partnering with both existing and new external licensees of our increasingly strong IP portfolio. “
Projects in progress
The projects in progress in which Middle-earth Enterprises has financial interests are: the Amazon series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power which will debut on September 2nd; the animated film The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim (Warner Bros.), scheduled for release in 2024; the mobile game The Lord of the Rings: Heroes of Middle-Earth (Electronic Arts).
At the moment we do not know if and how these projects will suffer a backlash from this acquisition.
TV series and streaming
The press release does not mention neither the rights for television series nor for streaming. We do not know if they are included or if they will be auctioned later.