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What the purchase of the Embracer Group from Lord of the Rings means

Embracer Group’s purchase of Middle-earth Enterprises opens up a wealth of possibilities to give all kinds of new spins to the characters, stories and places of JRR Tolkien’s Middle-earth. I am a horse girl at heart, and thus a video game company that buys the various rights to the Lord of the Rings and the hobbit universe means my dreams of a horse game involving the Rohirrim are so much closer to being fulfilled. But Embracer didn’t just buy the gaming rights to Middle-earth; it bought (almost) all the rights. What else can Embracer do with all those juicy IPs, and how much of Middle-earth does the Swedish holding group own?

Does Embracer Group own? Under the spell of the Ring and the hobbit?

Short answer: no. Long answer: Nooooooo. To be clear, the publishing rights of books still belong to the Tolkien family, as does everything related to them The Silmarillion and Tolkien’s other posthumously published works. Warner Bros. also retains some feature film production rights as part of the license it received from Middle-earth Enterprises (when it was known as Tolkien Enterprises) in the late 1990s. That’s How We Got The Peter Jackson Movies And Why We Get The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim animated feature should appear in 2024. Warner Bros., as part of its licensing deal, will likely have to continue producing LotR media or risk returning the rights to its original owners. (Amazon’s) The rings of power The TV show also bypasses this deal, as it has come to an agreement directly with the Tolkien estate.

And then Lord of the Rings properties does Embracer own?

Middle-earth enterprises, according to his websiteowns exclusive worldwide rights to film, merchandising, stage and other rights to certain JRR Tolkien literary works, including Under the spell of the Ring and the hobbit.” This means that Embracer can choose from one of 120 game studios and say, “make an Éomer’s Horse Adventure game”, and that would be fine, as long as it was book Éomer and not Karl Urban Éomer.

This is not the Embracer Group’s first step into the Tolkien universe: in 2021, the company acquired Asmodee, a French board, role-playing and card-game company that has published LotR-flavored card and board games for several decades.

Embracer has made it clear that it is going to exploit its new prized possession. In the press releaseEmbracer said, “Other opportunities include exploring additional films based on iconic characters such as Gandalf, Aragorn, Gollum, Galadriel, Eowyn, and other characters from JRR Tolkien’s literary works, and continuing[ing] to offer fans new opportunities to explore this fictional world through merchandising and other experiences.” Now, instead of being a licensee, it has become a licensor. Embracer could hand them out like a giant T-shirt cannon at a football game, meaning we could get everything from Éomer socks to, precious forbid, Éomer NFTs. [Ed note: noticing an Éomer throughline here]

It is not yet clear what will happen to Middle-earth Enterprises’ current licenseeswho make everything from replica jewelry and swords to cool Elven key caps, t-shirts, bicycles, honeyand little hobbit houses.

The owners of the various rights to this few basic fantasy texts are a torn hodgepodge of companies. Embracer Group now holds the lion’s share and we can expect them to take full advantage of that. Rohirrim horse girls, it is our time.

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