A number of rights related to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, including those pertaining to merchandising and the production of  video games, are set to go up for sale this week.

Source: Middle-earth: Shadow of War (2017), Warner Bros. Interactive

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As reported by Variety, various movie, merchandising, theme parks, video game, and live event rights are all set to be auctioned this week by Saul Zaentz Co.

According to the entertainment news outlet, the holding company’s sale of all their Tolkien-related rights is projected to pull in “at least $2 billion, based on recent high valuations for top-tier IP and content producers.”

Source: The Lord of the Rings Adventure Card Game – Definitive Edition (2019), Asmodee Digital

Further, Saul Zaentz Co. is selling their limited matching rights to any production made by the Tolkien estate based on two of Tolkien’s posthumously-published works, The Silmarillion, and The Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-Earth.

Warner Bros. will also maintain some film rights to Lord of the Rings through their ownership of New Line Cinema.

Source: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Extended Edition

Founded by late music and film entrepreneur Saul Zaentz, the eponymously named company made a deal in 1976 for various Lord of the Rings media rights.

Interestingly, the TV rights acquired by Zaentz as part of this deal only entitled him to the rights to any series that were longer than eight episodes.

As such, Amazon was able to side-step the holding company’s rights by approaching the Tolkien estate with an eight-episode pitch for their upcoming The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power series.

Source: The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

Variety further noted that substantial live-action film rights had reverted back to Zaentz Co. last year due to Warner Bros.’ lack of active development on any Lord of the Rings content.

What this means in relation to the status of New Line and Warner Bros.’ Animation anime-inspired The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim film, announced last June, remains unclear.

Source: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

The specific ownership of Zaentz Co. and Warner Bros.’ respective holdings have been a topic of hot debate between the company for years, with several legal battles having attempted to iron out the details since at least 2012.

Zaentz Co. also sued Warner Bros. and New Line in the early 2000s regarding profits it believed it was due from the Peter Jackson-directed trilogy. Likewise. the Tolkein estate and publisher HarperCollins have sued Warner Bros. multiple times over the profits from both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films.

Source: The Lord of the Rings: Gollum

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Upcoming Lord of the Rings games include Daedalic Entertainment’s The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, launching 2022. The stealth-action game will see Gollum, driven by the opposing forces in his mind, scrambling around Middle-Earth in search of his precious.

Amazon also cancelled their Lord of the Rings MMO announced back in 2018. Bloomberg reported that according to “people familiar with the matter,” contract negotiations and a dispute with Tencent led to the cancellation.

Source: The Lord of the Rings: Gollum

Selling the rights just as Amazon were about to publish their Rings of Power series may be somewhat surprising, but there a number of plausible reasons why Zaentz Co. is interested in making this sale.

It may be Zaentz Co. is hoping to make bank off of their holdings as it begins to as everyone begins to talk about it again.

But then again – and we must emphasize this is pure speculation – it may show that Zaentz Co. feels the brand will lose value after the September 2nd premiere of Amazon’s Rings of Powers, hoping to sell the brand at what they believe will be its peak.

Source: The Lord of the Rings Online (2012), Standing Stone Games

Who do you hope gets the various rights to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit? Let us know on social media and in the comments below!

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