Game and movie rights for Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are going up for sale, leaving investors in Hollywood and beyond ready to acquire one of the biggest literary and media franchises of all time.
As reported by Varietyfilm production company Saul Zaentz Co. is auctioning a series of game, film, merchandising, live events and theme park rights to various works by JRR Tolkien.
The holdings are projected to be close to $2 billion, with Amazon hoping to be among the first in line to acquire them. Variety reports that Amazon will look to strengthen its Middle-earth holdings as it prepares to launch its new Tolkien TV show. The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.
The sale, however, does not cover all rights to Tolkien’s works. Warner Bros. retains some film rights to The Lord of the Rings through its ownership of New Line Cinema and has produced several Middle-earth video games in recent years, including 2013’s Lego The Lord of the Rings and 2017’s. Middle-earth: Shadow of War.
It also doesn’t stop the development of other video games set in the Lord of the Rings universe. Daedalic Entertainment is still working on a Gollum gamewhich was first announced in 2019, while The Lord of the Rings Online is still standing after nearly 15 years.
Analysis: Will Amazon make a Lord of the Rings video game?
Given the popularity and proven profitability of the Lord of the Rings name, we can expect investors from Hollywood and other publishers to clamor to claim a piece of Tolkien’s pie. The buzz around Amazon’s upcoming TV show may well convince the company that a bigger investment in the franchise will bring in good business.
If she gets the rights at auction, there’s nothing to guarantee that Amazon will produce a Lord of the Rings video game, but her previous development activity suggests she has at least some interest in doing so. Just last year, Bloomberg reported that Amazon Gaming Studios was developing a Lord of the Rings MMO with Chinese studio Leyou Technologies. However, after a dispute between Amazon and Leyou’s parent company Tencent, the game was canceled in the middle.
At that time, an Amazon spokesperson told Bloomberg, “We love the Lord of the Rings IP and are disappointed that we don’t bring this game to customers.”
Prior to that, Amazon Game Studios Vice President Christoph Hartmann said: “Tolkien’s Middle-earth is one of the richest fictional worlds in history, and it gives our team of experienced MMO developers – from the same studio that develops the New World – a tremendous opportunity to play and create.”
If Amazon acquires the rights to The Lord of the Rings to fuel its growing entertainment empire, the recent success it has had with New world may lead you to invest in a Tolkien video game as well. We may very well see an Amazon logo emblazoned on The Fellowship somewhere down the road.