The Lord of the Rings Franchise Could Be Worth $6 Billion One Day

IMAGE New Line Cinema

The Lord of the Rings is one of the biggest franchises in the world, but it could be bigger. At least, that’s what ACF Investment Bank CEO Thomas Dey believed when he brokered the sale of the LOTR franchise IP to the Swedish Embracer Group. J.R.R. Tolkien’s life work is one of the most imaginative fictional worlds to ever be created, and so far, it’s been adapted into countless movies, radio shows, and audiobooks, with even a video game thrown in here and there. But compared to Marvel and Star Wars, LOTR has a long way to go. 

The LOTR IP’s sale to Embracer group aims to change that, as Dey once called the LOTR as one of the six “pieces of IP of this magnitude on the planet.” Embracer, which plans to unlock LOTR’s potential, now owns the rights to all LOTR and The Hobbit movies, shows, video games, board games, merchandising, theme parks, and stage productions. 


“I think this asset has the ability to get to [Marvel and Star Wars’] scale,” said Dey at Mipcom Cannes. “Someone has just needed to have the belief that this can be as ambitious as it can be.”

A franchise worth $6 billion is certainly ambitious, but the LOTR IP’s new owners already have a game plan on how to get there. At Mipcom, Embracer’s CEO Lars Wingefors shared how gaming was his company’s “strongest area of growth and monetization.” 

The LOTR IP has been through the wringer over the years. While the Tolkien Estate still owns the rights to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, Embracer now holds considerable control over how LOTR properties will be adapted. Through its acquisition of Middle-Earth Enterprises, the company now steps into the role previously held by The Saul Zaentz Company, which allowed New Line Cinema to create the LOTR trilogy by Peter Jackson. 

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The biggest project in the Tolkien universe at the moment is The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power on Amazon Prime Video. Embracer might just follow Prime’s example of exploring untold stories in Middle Earth as the company has shown interest in “exploring additional movies based on iconic characters such as Gandalf, Aragorn, Gollum, Galadriel, Eowyn and other characters from the literary works of J.R.R. Tolkien.” 


The gaming company is also focusing on the experiential potential of LOTR, as Dey explained that film and TV is shifting from escapism to experiences. With metaverses on the rise and video games more in demand than ever, Dey said, “I think we will lean forward into that entertainment over the next decade and will look for other ways to do that. Audiences are demanding more than the ‘lean back’ approach.”

The foundations have already been set for a mega-franchise, thanks to the legacies of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy. Not to mention, The Rings of Power is already the most expensive show in history. 

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Anri Ichimura
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