The Rings of Power's chief creative team "can't say" how they'll be impacted by the sale of The Lord of the Rings IP.
Speaking exclusively to TechRadar at The Rings of Power's UK junket, executive producer Lindsey Weber revealed that she, as well as showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, were in the dark over Embracer Group's acquisition of The Lord of the Rings IP from The Saul Zaentz Company.
On August 18, Embracer Group – a Swedish multimedia company that largely specializes in videogames – bought Middle-earth Enterprises. Now, Embracer Group holds the worldwide rights to motion pictures, video and board games, merchandising, theme parks, and stage productions based on (or inspired by) some of J.R.R. Tolkien's legendary works, such as The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
On the surface, it doesn't appear that The Rings of Power will be affected by Embracer's buyout. After all, there's nothing listed above that suggests future seasons of the Prime Video series will be co-developed by Embracer Group. However, per a press release distributed after Embracer's acquisition, the company mentioned that Middle-earth Enterprises has "financial interests" in Amazon's Lord of the Rings TV show. By proxy, then, Embracer Group seems to have a stake in The Rings of Power.
So, how will The Lord of the Rings IP's new owners affect The Rings of Power's future? According to Weber, nobody truly knows at this point, but she suspects Amazon Studios will have something official to say in the near future.
"The short answer is I can't [answer that]," Weber told TechRadar. "I can only tell you what we're doing, which is planning to make 50 hours of this show very carefully, one season at a time. Right now, we're totally consumed with this. But I'm sure Amazon will have some thoughts about that."
We've reached out to Amazon Studios for further comment on the matter and we'll update this article if we receive a response.
For now, confusion will continue to reign over how The Rings of Power might be affected by Embracer Group's buyout of Middle-earth Enterprises. Ironically, though, the picture could have been much clearer if Amazon had bought the rights to Middle-earth Enterprises itself.
Back in February, Variety reported that The Saul Zaentz Company – who have owned the movie, stage, and merchandising rights to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit since 1976 – wanted to sell its holdings for an estimated $2 billion. At the time, it was thought that one of the world's biggest corporations, such as Amazon or Warner Bros, would bid for the rights due to their previous and current franchise interests. For Amazon, that was based on its forthcoming Prime Video prequel series. Meanwhile, Warner Bros hold some movie development rights through its ownership of New Line Cinema, which distributed all six of Peter Jackson's Middle-earth-based movies, and is currently developing an anime-style film called War of the Rohirrim.
However, Embracer's acquisition has put paid to its competitors owning The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit IPs, further muddying the waters around who actually owns – and who can profit from – productions like The Rings of Power.
Right now, it doesn't appear as though Amazon's Lord of the Rings will be affected by Embracer's acquisition. According to the above Variety report, a loophole in The Saul Zaentz Company's original buyout meant that other companies would hold the rights to any TV series, based in Middle-earth, comprising eight or more episodes. Given that The Rings of Power season 1 is made up of 10 episodes, Amazon was able to directly cut a deal with the Tolkien estate in 2017, thus circumnavigating the legal difficulties of having to deal with The Saul Zaentz Company.
But, with Embracer Group and Middle-earth Enterprises having financial interests in The Rings of Power, and little in the way of clarification from either party or Amazon, it seems Tolkien fans and The Rings of Power's creators will be in the dark for a while yet.
For more Rings of Power-based content, check out our spoiler-free review of the show's first two episodes. Alternatively, find out when Amazon's Lord of the Rings will be released in your country, or read about how The Rings of Power will be a goldmine of secrets for diehard Tolkienites.
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