Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit Movie and Gaming Rights Going up for Sale

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The film and gaming rights to The Lord of the Rings and Th Hobbit are going up for sale. According to Variety, the Saul Zaentz Co. will sell its movie, gaming, merchandising, and live event rights regarding J.R.R. Tolkien‘s Middle-earth fantasy world. ACF Investment Bank is handling the process which is taking place this week, with ownership being shopped around to prospective buyers in Hollywood. Based on recent valuations, the rights should sell for upwards of $2 billion. Representative s for Zaentz Co. and ACF chose not to comment on Variety’s report.

The news breaks as Amazon is preparing to release the first teaser for its upcoming Lord of the Rings streaming television series The Rings of Power during Sunday’s Super Bowl game. The long-in-production series has set a September 2nd debut date and is the first live-action project set on Middle-earth since the last of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit movies, The Battle of the Five Armies, which debuted in 2014.

The report states that the lack of new developments with the intellectual property on Warner Bros.’ part is why the rights reverted to Zaentz Co. Warner Bros. has been in the Middle-earth business for 20 years since The Fellowship of the Ring opened in theaters in 2001. Through its ownership of New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. will maintain some rights to the property. It announced last year that it is developing an animated Lord of the Rings movie titled The War of the Rohirrim.

But Zaentz Co.’s rights reportedly include film, video games, merchandising, live events, and theme parks. There are also limited rights involving the two other volumes of Tolkien’s Middle-earth writings, The Silmarillion and The Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-earth, published after the author’s death in 1973.

Warner Bros.’s relationship with other entities invested in Tolkien’s intellectual property has been fraught for years. Zaentz Co. sued Warner Bros. and New Line over profit shares from Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film trilogy. HarperCollins, Tolkien’s publisher, and the Tolkien estimate filed similar lawsuits against Warner Bros. on multiple occasions, including suits regarding The Hobbit trilogy of movies.

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Lord of the Rings and Middle-earth are potential goldmines in an entertainment market where intellectual property is highly valued. It’s especially true since it provides a distinct flavor different from the superhero content that has saturated the market. ComicBook.com spoke to Sean Astin, who played Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, about Tolkien’s take on heroism while celebrating The Fellowship of the Ring’s 20th anniversary. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment celebrated with The Ultimate Middle-Earth 6-Film Collector’s Edition.)

“I think for Tolkien, he really thought about it, he really dissected it, he really understood the full contours of heroism, born in his own military service, as the parent of a service member who was fighting in the big war, the crucible of that kind of emotional experience,” Astin says. “And he was a man of letters. He was a don, right? An Oxford don. And these guys read their asses off, and he was so deeply read. He was a philologist, and to and to say he understood languages, he understood language at its core, the sounds, the shape of language, the ideas.”

from Ultimate Comic Blog
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