April 22, 2024 – This week in LOTR news, big business moves and huge reveals. Tales of the Shire Trailer reactions, Embracer rebrands as Middle-earth, Rings of Power cast reunite, LOTR returns to cinemas.

Tales of the Shire gets a teaser trailer

After three years of secret development, Weta Workshop and Private Division finally revealed the look and feel of their new cozy video game Tales of the Shire. Watch the whole trailer on YouTube and see the full announcement in an early post.

Reactions were swift coming in from Happy Hobbit (watch) and Nerd of the Rings (watch). Speaking of, Matt got an exclusive tour of the Weta Workshop games office in NZ, which you can watch below.

Embracer splits into three separate units

Embracer Group, which acquired Middle-earth Enterprises a couple years ago for $395 million (see the deal announcement here) have decided to split the company up into three unique entities, each publicly traded on Swedish NASDAQ.

  • Asmodee Group — board and card games
  • Coffee Stain & Friends — publishing & development for live service / indie / AA games
  • Middle-earth Enterprises & Friends — franchise management and AAA game development

“Friends” of Middle-earth include Embracer-owned Tomb Raider and Dark Horse Comics, as well as many other established big game developers and franchises. While these company names are temporary/holding per the press releases, there is clear positioning to put LOTR rights at the forefront. This will also be the first time regular fans will be able to buy and trade stock in Middle-earth Enterprises. Read more about why this is happening with this interview with the CEO.

Rings of Power cast reunite in London

Ismael Cruz Cordova, the breakout star of season one as Arondir the elf, posted pics with Tyroe Muhafidin, Owain Arthur, Sophia Nomvete and other cast members in London. Could marketing for Season 2 finally be about to start?

It’s really charming to see the cast of LOTR shows and movie grow to be ongoing friends in life.

DUNE Part Two Cinematographer chat with TORN!

Oscar-winning cinematographer Greig Fraser chatted with TORN Tuesday about the Australia and NZ film industry, the legacy of Andrew Lesnie, and recent work on The Batman, The Mandalorian, and Dune. Plus, a wild story about Peter Jackson on set for the Darth Vader scene in Rogue One. Watch on YouTube or below.

Dune Part Two is back in IMAX cinemas and available to buy/rent VOD.

The Lord of the Rings Extended Editions coming to U.S. Cinemas

Fathom Events are bringing the 3+ hour long Extended Editions of all three The Lord of the Rings movies to cinemas across the USA June 8, 9, 10. Check your local AMC / Cinemark / Regal or local theater for tickets.

Ever wished you could just move to the Shire, and live an idyllic, Hobbity sort of life? Well, now you can – kind of…

Private Division and Weta Workshop have today shared a trailer for their upcoming sim game, Tales of the Shire: A Lord of the Rings Game. It’s a bucolically blissful as you might expect; see for yourself:

Coming in the second half of 2024, Tales of the Shire will be available for Nintendo Switch™ system, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC via Steam. Here’s what the official press release tell us:

Welcome Home, Hobbit! Private Division and Wētā Workshop Announce Tales of the Shire: A The Lord of the Rings Game

Upcoming cosy The Lord of the Rings game set in the Middle-earth universe inspired by the books of J.R.R. Tolkien arrives later this year

New York, NY – April 22, 2024 – Private Division, a publishing label of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTWO), and Wētā Workshop, known for their work on the world of Middle-earth for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, today revealed Tales of the Shire: A The Lord of the Rings Game, a cosy Hobbit life sim set in the Middle-earth universe of J.R.R. Tolkien. Developed by Wētā Workshop Game Studio, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wētā Workshop, Tales of the Shire will launch in the second half of 2024 on the Nintendo Switch™ system, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC via Steam.

In Tales of the Shire, experience the storybook return to Middle-earth’s most inviting region by living life as a Hobbit in the idyllic town of Bywater. Unwind in the breathtaking pastures, visit the townsfolks’ local shops, or even enjoy second breakfast. Help bring the community together and achieve official village status by throwing the greatest Bywater Festival the Shire has ever seen!

“We’re excited to provide players with the opportunity to fulfil their fantasy of living their own humble Hobbit life in the Shire,” said Kelly Tyson, Head of Product at Wētā Workshop. “Tales of the Shire brings a cosy new dimension to the way fans can experience Middle-earth, with plenty of wholesome, Hobbit- centric gameplay to win-over newcomers to the genre.”

Create and personalise a Hobbit with an array of customisations to experience the world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved Middle-earth universe your own way. Settle in and decorate a cosy Hobbit home, choosing from an array of furniture and home décor to create your unique, humble abode. Then head outdoors to Bywater for plenty of cooking, fishing, foraging, gardening, and more relaxing activities in the Shire. Toss your lure to catch trout from the glistening waters of Bywater Pool, gather wild mushrooms, and then use the collected ingredients to bake a succulent pie to serve for luncheon. With a full belly, stroll back outside to explore the Shire and build relationships with the Bywater locals by helping them to build a garden, sharing one of the many daily Hobbit meals, and more.

“The team at Wētā Workshop is creating a brilliant representation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved works that gives players the agency to create their own Hobbit experience in Middle-earth,” said Michael Worosz, Chief Strategy Officer, Take-Two Interactive, and Head of Private Division. “Players have been clamoring for a warm and inviting The Lord of the Rings game for years now, and it’s exactly what we’re delivering with Tales of the Shire.”

It’s no surprise that a video game in which Weta Workshop have had a hand should be stunning to look at; here are some screenshots from the game:

Become a Hobbit, decorate your Hobbit hole, and then explore the Shire to your heart’s content; what could be better? Tales of the Shire: A Lord of the Rings Game can’t come soon enough!