Embracer Group Acquires IP Rights to 'Lord of the Rings' and 'The Hobbit'

Embracer Group Acquires IP Rights to ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’

Swedish video game company Embracer Group has acquired Middle-earth Enterprises, a division of The Saul Zaentz Company, which owns the intellectual property catalog and worldwide rights to Under the spell of the Ring trilogy and the hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

The financial terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed. But the deal means Embracer Group will own the film, video game, board game, merchandising, theme park and stage production rights related to Under the spell of the Ring and hobbit franchises as well as matching rights in other Middle-earth-related literary works approved by the Tolkien Estate and HarperCollins, which are yet to be explored.

“I’m really excited to have Under the spell of the Ring and the hobbit, one of the world’s most epic fantasy franchises, joins the Embracer family and opens up more transmedia capabilities, including synergies across our global group,” said Lars Wingefors, founder and Group CEO Embracer Group. “I’m excited to see what’s next for this IP with Freemode and Asmodee starting within the group. In the future, we also look forward to working with both existing and new third-party licensees of our increasingly strong IP portfolio.”

As part of the deal, Middle-earth Enterprises will be part of the newly formed operations group Embracer Freemode. The company will continue to operate independently under Middle-earth Enterprises’ existing leadership team.

In a statement, Marty Glick, COO of The Saul Zaentz Company said: “We at the Zaentz Company have had the honor of managing the Tolkien rights for the past half century so that Lord of the Rings and hobbit fans around the world could enjoy award-winning epic films, challenging video games, top-notch theater and all kinds of merchandise. We couldn’t be happier that Embracer is now taking on the responsibility and we are confident that their group will take it to new heights and dimensions while maintaining tribute to the spirit of these great works of literature.”

Embracer’s operating group Asmodee Group has a longstanding relationship with Tolkien IP, having published: Under the spell of the Ring board game more than 20 years ago as well as producing The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game.

Major upcoming works set in Middle-earth, in which Middle-earth Enterprises has financial interests, include Amazon’s highly anticipated series The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power, which debuts on September 2, 2022, as well as the Warner Bros. animated film The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrimslated for release in 2024, and EA’s mobile game The Lord of the Rings: Heroes of Middle-earth.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP acted as legal counsel to Embracer Group. Arnold & Porter acted as legal counsel and ACF Investment Bank acted as Investment Banker for The Saul Zaentz Company.

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