In the latest annual financial report from Swedish holding company Embracer Group, the purchase price for its newly acquired Middle-earth IP has been revealed as US $395 million. This is nearly double what Amazon paid for the TV rights to LOTR, and includes everything outside those TV rights — movies, music, merch, games and theme parks.

According to Variety, Embracer also reports “several world-class products” from The Lord of the Rings are in the works. These include the already announced new Warner Bros / New Line Cinema deal for several new films, and an original online MMO RPG persistent world game set in the Third Age from Amazon Games.

It should be noted that Middle-earth Enterprises (MEE) were already making big moves before the acquisition. The newly licensed Magic: The Gathering card game The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth, five new video games including Gollum Game and a new Weta Digital LOTR game, as well as merch trademarks for Rings of Power were all in process before the Embracer acquisition of MEE from The Saul Zaentz Company.

Interestingly, the Embracer annual report says there was a cash payment of $267 million for Middle-earth Enterprises, implying that the extra $130 million could be performance-based rewards or stock in the new owner. Saul Zaentz, the enterprising filmmaker, music producer and deal maker, owned the rights that enabled all the films and games over the last 50 years. Rumors last year had the rights valued at $2 billion, nearly 5x the actual acquisition price. This may be how much Embracer expects to make from Middle-earth. For comparison, Peter Jackson’s Hobbit and LOTR films have made nearly $10 billion in box office, home video, games and merch.

The 1978 animated adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, created by acclaimed filmmaker Ralph Bakshi, is celebrating its 40th Anniversary, and the director took time to speak at length with The Hollywood Reporter about the journey to get the film made, beginning with his love of Tolkien and how the novels influenced one of his earlier projects.

“As far as realistic adult fantasy, Tolkien certainly was the best I’d ever read,” says Bakshi, who regularly consumed sci-fi and fantasy like Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian pulp novels in the ‘50s. “There was a very big fantasy kick going on in the underground and in popular culture [in the ‘60s and ‘70s]. That kick eventually had me make the picture Wizards.”

The $1.3 million budgeted, politically acute Wizards incorporated a number of Tolkienesque characters in its post-apocalyptic setting, from fairies and elves and dwarves to the title characters themselves.

Continue reading “Ralph Bakshi looks back at “The Lord of the Rings” for its 40th Anniversary”

Academy Of Motion Pictures And Sciences' 2009 Governors Awards Gala - ArrivalsFilm Producer Saul Zaentz has passed away at the age of 92. Many Tolkien fans will know him as the man who held the film rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings – but he was so much more: a true Hollywood legend, with countless film projects to his name. He won many Oscars, including Best Picture wins for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The English Patient, and my very favorite film of all time (perhaps with the exception of The Lord of the Rings trilogy) – Amadeus. Continue reading “Academy Award winning Producer Saul Zaentz dies at age 92”