Both the gaming rights and the film rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are currently up for sale. According to a report from Variety, the Saul Zaentz Co. will be selling its merchandising, gaming, movie, and live event nights regarding J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth fantasy world. As of now, ACF Investment Bank is the one handling the process which will take place this week, with the ownership being shopped around to different prospective buyers in Hollywood. Based on the recent valuations, the rights should sell for at least $2 billion. The representatives for ACF and Zaentz Co. chose not to release a comment on Variety’s report.
The news breaks amid the preparation for the release of Amazon’s Lord of the Rings' first teaser during Sunday’s Super Bowl game. The release date for Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is set to be released on September 2. This TV series is the first live-action project that is set on Middle-earth since the last The Hobbit movie, The Battle of the Five Armies, which was released back in 2014.
In the report, it states that the lack of new developments with the intellectual property on Warner Bros.’ part is the reason why the rights were given back to Zaentz Co. Warner Bros. has been the one handling the Middle-earth business for 20 years since the release of The Fellowship of the Ring when it was first released in 2001. With Warner Bros. owning New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. will be able to maintain some rights to the property. Last year, Warner Bros. announced that an animated Lord of the Rings movie titled The War of the Rohirrim is currently in the works.
For Zaentz Co.’s rights, it reportedly includes video games, live events, films, merchandising, and theme parks. There are also a lot of limited rights involving the two other volumes of J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth books, The Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-earth and The Silmarillion, published after his death in 1973.
Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is set to be released on September 2, 2022.