Lord of the Intellectual Property

One multinational holding company to rule them all.

So, this is interesting:

In brief, Swedish multimedia holding company Embracer Group (the former THQ Nordic, so named after acquiring most of the properties of the original THQ) just purchased the IP rights to Lord of the Rings, in the form of Middle-earth Enterprises, from the Saul Zaentz Company — possibly relevant in the decision is the fact that Saul Zaentz himself died in 2014.

Notably, and confusingly, these rights do not include every possible adaptation of Tolkien’s works, nor even all of Tolkien’s works — the Estate still directly holds the rights to basically everything but The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and the rights to publishing the books have pretty much always been owned by HarperCollins.

This is perhaps illustrated best by the fact that Amazon was able to approach the Estate directly to pitch Rings of Power, because Middle-earth Enterprises’ rights do not include TV shows longer than eight episodes.

Now, what does this actually mean?


I’m not an IP lawyer, so I can’t speak to that angle, but looking into what else Embracer actually owns, it’s not hard to guess at how they’ll try to make use of the rights.

Just skimming the Wikipedia page, Embracer owns: several board and card game companies, a lot of video game studios, and Dark Horse.

Fundamentally, I think we’re in for a pretty significant influx of Lord of the Rings media, and we’re probably the closest we’ve been to getting a new film version of the books since the Year 2000.

But also, buckle up, because the fanbase is probably going to be furious about most of these forthcoming adaptations. Though I do think a comic book adaptation from Dark Horse could actually be kinda cool.

Honestly, I think these next few years are going to be wild in terms of Tolkien-related stuff.

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