Got $3 Billion? You Could Own the Lord of the Rings Film Rights

Got $3 Billion? You Could Own the Lord of the Rings Film Rights
If you're a money wizard, you could own the Lord of the Rings. (Image: New Line Cinema)

Do you have an interest in making films, video games, merchandise, live events, or theme park attractions based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit? If so, and you have a few billion lying around, you can do just that.

Variety reports that the Saul Zaentz Company, which has held the rights to the Tolkien properties since 1976, is ready to put those rights on the open market and expects them to sell for at least $US2 billion (over $3 billion in Aussie terms). On the surface, that’s very confusing. There’s of course Warner Bros. — which, through New Line Cinema, released six mega-blockbuster, Oscar-winning Peter Jackson films based on those books. Then there’s Amazon, which itself is gearing up to release a brand new TV show called The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. So where does all this fit in?

Well, though Zaentz owns the rights to movies, games, merch, events, etc., one specific piece that wasn’t included was TV shows longer than eight episodes. It’s a loophole that allowed Amazon, in 2017, to buy those very specific rights for about $US250 million (around $347 million). According to the reports, that puts that company as the odds-on favourite to snatch up everything else.

Warner Bros. also still holds “some film development rights” to the franchise, especially since it’s producing an animated film called The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim. But, with no live-action film development happening in the past few years, Variety says a “substantial” stake in the film rights reverted back to Zaentz last year.

Where does that leave everything? Simple. Amazon has its show. That’s happening. But if any other film studio or private investor wants to make a Lord of the Rings theme park, video game, action figure, stage musical, or another series of movies, the chance is out there. Plus, these rights include “limited matching rights” to Tolkien’s other works, The Silmarillion and The Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-Earth.

Head over to Variety to read more about the deal. But, in an ideal world, if you could buy these rights, what would you do with them?