In a move announced late last night (or early morning in Europe, take your pick), Swedish company, and now seemingly owner of Geekdom, Embracer Group announced they had acquired Middle-earth Enterprises. This means that the company now owns the company that owns the adaptation rights for Tolkien's Legendarium.
Embracer, which also owns gaming companies such as THQ Nordic, Gearbox and Plaion, now owns Middle-earth Enterprises, which licenses out Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit adaptation rights for everything from games, card games, movies, TV shows and more. The move sees Embracer take on Middle-earth Enterprises from The Saul Zaentz Company, which has held the movie rights to Tolkien's works since the 70s.
As such, Embracer Group now owns the IP rights to one of the most valuable brands of all time, a brand that has spanwed multiple movies, games, an upcoming Amazon TV show and much more. The price of the acquisition wasn't disclosed due to "commercial reasons" per the announcement.
It's important to note here, though, that this does not give Embracer Group the literary rights over Tolkien's vast legendarium. The Tolkien Estate still holds those rights, as well as HarperCollins, which publishes the books themselves. This means we're unlikely to see any Silmarillion-themed movies and games for the time being.
What this means for existing Lord of the Rings games is fairly clear based on the release. There doesn't seem to be much changing. The Lord of the Rings Online will likely remain unaffected, as well as Daedalic's upcoming Lord of the Rings: Gollum. The recently announced LotR game being worked on by Private Division and Weta is also likely to be untouched and move forward, as Middle-earth Enterprises never sold the licesnse for Lord of the Rings to the companies making these titles, just turned them into licensees. The company already owned Asmodee (which owns Fantasy Flight, which has the license for LotR boardgames).
Embracer reminded everyone too that more Middle-earth-based stuff is on the way, including a Rohan anime, as well as the Amazon TV show. It also teased that it's already thinking of new ways to leverage the IP.
"Key upcoming works set in Middle-earth, in which Middle-earth Enterprises has financial interests, include the much-heralded Amazon series The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power which will premiere on September 2, 2022, set thousands of years before The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings; the animated movie The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim (Warner Bros), set for release in 2024, and the mobile game The Lord of the Rings: Heroes of Middle-earth (Electronic Arts).
Other opportunities include exploring additional movies based on iconic characters such as Gandalf, Aragorn, Gollum, Galadriel, Eowyn and other characters from the literary works of J.R.R. Tolkien, and continue to provide new opportunities for fans to explore this fictive world through merchandising and other experiences."
The Swedish company also announced today it was buying multiple other companies, including Tripwire Interactive, Limited Run Games, Tuxedo Labs, and Singtrix.