The movie, merchandising, gaming, and live event rights to the immensely successful Lord of the Rings franchise are suddenly up for sale.
The Saul Zaentz Company, named after and founded by the late American film producer, has decided to sell Middle-earth Enterprises, a division of the company that owns the rights to literary and motion picture rights to titles like The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
The Saul Zaentz Co. acquire the rights in 1976 and produced the first of what would later be many adaptations of the J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy adventure book series. The company went on to license Peter Jackson’s live-action trilogy adaptation of the series in 1998.
ACF Investment Bank has reportedly been hired by Zaentz Co. to take over the sale process which will most likely involve top Hollywood investors and buyers (via Variety (opens in new tab)). The rights are estimated to be worth up to $2 billion and could skyrocket even further based on the success of Amazon’s new Lord of the Rings TV show titled Lord of the Rings: The Ring of Power. Certain beloved characters will return (though much younger as this is set thousands of years before the movies) while introducing some new faces. The series will be produced by Amazon Studios in cooperation with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, alongside HarperCollins, and New Line Cinema, a division of Warner Bros. Entertainment.
Despite the sale, Warner Bros. still maintains some of the rights via New Line Cinema. Zaentz Co. has not made a statement as to why they decided to sell. No doubt there will be a major bidding war in Hollywood.
While you’re waiting for the September 2022 premiere of Lord of the Rings: The Ring of Power, check our list of the best shows on Amazon Prime.