Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film and gaming rights are for sale

Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film and gaming rights are for sale

A new report has confirmed both the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film and gaming rights are for sale, opening the door for a flood of new adaptations based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendary novels.

While both Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film and gaming rights are for sale (via Variety) from current license holder Saul Zaentz Co., the various Tolkien entities and the rights to them are expected to cost at least $2 billion.

Zaentz Co. has brought on ACF Investment Bank to handle the entire sale and purchasing process, which has been unfolding this week as bankers are going around to various Hollywood moguls and studios. As expected, Amazon is one of the prime candidates to acquire the rest of the rights to Tolkien’s work as they are producing the very expensive prequel series, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Coming from this, as Amazon’s new series is rolling out the first photos and soon trailer for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power ahead of its September premiere, the timing of the rights going on sale now isn’t accidental – Saul Zaentz Co. is hoping to capitalize on the buzz coming from Amazon’s new series to make the sale even more lucrative.

Despite Zaentz Co. owning the film, video games, merchandising, live events, and even theme park rights to both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, they also had limited matching rights to whether or not the Tolkien estate decided to make movies or other adaptations of the appendices. These of course include the two compilations from Tolkien’s writings chronicled and published after his death in 1973 as The Silmarillion and The Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-Earth.

As with all copyright and trademark law, none of it is clear and generally whoever has the most money tends to win – so while Warner Bros. had rights to the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film adaptations through New Line Cinema, both of which saw the incredible LOTR trilogy via director Peter Jackson and the lesser but still enjoyable The Hobbit trilogy.. Zaentz Co. still retained ownership to the properties.

Despite Warner Bros. being set to produce the animated film The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim, legal folk are saying rights have mostly “reverted” back to Zaentz Co. last year. This mostly falls under the concept of active use of copyright or trademarks, where generally the less you use or defend your property, the less legal sway you have over it. In comparison to Amazon’s new series, Warner Bros. hasn’t been producing enough LOTR or related content.

Saul Zaentz was an investor in music that built his fortune off the success of legendary rock group Creedence Clearwater Revival, and later pivoted into producing Hollywood film. He acquired the rights to various Tolkien entities back in 1976, and one property included the rights to a TV series that was longer than eight episodes. It’s this exact legal loophole that allowed the Tolkien estate to cut a direct deal with Amazon (the show is only 8 episodes), snubbing the folks at Zaentz Co., as Saul died back in 2017.

This is Niche Culture. In this column, we regularly cover anime, geek culture, and things related to video games. Please leave feedback and let us know if there’s something you want us to cover!



Owner and Publisher at Niche Gamer and Nicchiban. Outlaw fighting for a better game industry.

Where'd our comments go? Subscribe to become a member to get commenting access and true free speech!