Embracer Group buys Lord of the Rings in an IP spending spree

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Swedish video game publisher and media holding Embracer Group announced this week the acquisition of eight properties, including Middle-earth Enterprises, which controls the intellectual property licensing rights to The Lord of the Rings franchise. These rights were previously held by The Saul Zaentz Company, which licensed ownership to New Line Cinema for Peter Jackson’s acclaimed Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

Although Embracer Group does not own The Lord of the Rings – those rights are still owned and managed by the Tolkien Estate – this means that Embracer now controls all Lord of the Rings material suitable for various mediums such as film, television, board games. , theme parks and of course, video games. In a Press releaseEmbracer cited the various adaptations of The Lord of the Rings currently in development, including the upcoming Amazon streaming series “The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power”, which takes place thousands of years before the original trilogy and will cover the rise of the Dark Lord Sauron. like the eponymous Lord of the Rings.

Embracer also offered a window into some possible future Lord of the Rings adaptations with films focusing on specific characters. According to the press release:

“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 continues to bring new opportunities to fans. to explore this fictional world through merchandising and other experiences.”

Embracer did not specify the acquisition price of the Middle-earth businesses alone, but estimated the total cost of the eight acquisitions at $780 million (or 8.2 billion Swedish kronor). Some of the other companies Embracer has added during its buying spree include Tuxedo Labs (creator of the “Teardown” game), Limited Run Games (a distributor of rare physical copy video games), Tripwire Interactive (“Killing Floor “, “Red Orchestra”) and Tatsujin (“Zero Wing”, the source of the early 2000s English meme “All your bases belong to us”).

It’s business as usual for Embracer. The holding company has been on a prolific acquisition campaign since 2018, buying up video game studios, publishers and IPs. Embracer now holds reign over a number of venerable video game franchises such as Borderlands, Tomb Raider, Deus Ex, and Thief. Alongside The Lord of the Rings, Embracer also has a respectable media footprint thanks to its ownership of Umbrella Academy, Sin City, 300, and Hellboy through Dark Horse Media.

In June, Embracer’s resources were further boosted through a controversial operation $1 billion investment by Savvy Gaming Group (SGG), a branch of the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, which in turn is owned and operated by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The investment faced backlash due to Saudi Arabia’s decision history of human rights violations and the prince’s alleged role in the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi (Khashoggi was also a columnist for the Washington Post). Embracer CEO Lars Wingefors said financial support from SGG would not influence the management of Embracer in any way, stating that the company is “built on the principles of freedom, inclusion, humanity and openness,” in a later press release.

With an ever-expanding stable of media companies and new revenue streams, Embracer has become a major player in the current video game consolidation trend. Over the past year, industry behemoths like Sony, Microsoft, and Take-Two Interactive have been rapidly buying and merging companies as the gaming market continues to grow by billions of dollars each year. If the current pace continues, the global video game industry is expected to reach $321 billion by 2026, according to a report by Price Waterhouse Coopers.

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