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.