‘The Lord Of The Rings’ And ‘Got Talent’ IP Owners Spoke At Mipcom – Deadline

The Lord of the Rings franchise can reach the $6B-plus scale of Marvel and Star Wars, according to the man who brokered the sale of the IP to Sweden’s Embracer Group, who revealed new information about the deal.

ACF Investment Bank CEO Thomas Day told Mipcom Cannes Lord of the Rings is one of around 6 “pieces of IP of this magnitude on the planet,” which will now have its potential unlocked by Embracer. Embracer picked up the motion picture, video game, board game, merchandizing, theme parks and stage production rights relating to The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit franchises over the summer as well as matching rights in other Middle-earth-related literary works authorized by the Tolkien Estate and HarperCollins, which have yet to be explored.

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

While financials of the transaction, which completed in the past few weeks, have not been disclosed, Dey joked: “We let bidders come in and make bids, gave guide prices on our thoughts and then [Embracer] halved that.”

Embracer’s focus is likely to be on gaming, which CEO Lars Wingefors said is the 15,000-staff public company’s “strongest area of growth and monetization,” as he spoke alongside Dey. The company also bought The Mask owner Dark Horse Comics late last year.

“Having 10,000 developers in the group means we are thinking about what we can do with the IP going forward and this justifies value for us,” he added. “And then we have a number of amazing opportunities to do ‘transmedia’ projects. We can power creatives to succeed with their goals and dreams.”

Day also spotlighted new information about the deal, one of the largest M&A contracts to be signed in the past few years.

When Middle-earth Enterprises, a division of the Saul Zaentz Company, firsst approached ACF, the deal was so secret that “we were interviewed in the dark and didn’t know what the asset was,” he said.

“It was so disguised when it came through the door,” he added. “This is a long established asset that has gone through multiple people’s hands and we had to make sure we understood what we have and didn’t have.”

Day flagged the immense complexity of a deal for a franchise that has moved from the Tolkien Estate to ICM to Middle-Earth enterprises and now Embracer, and said some “grey areas” are still being ironed out.

“It’s the nature of the beast that a lot of deals are done with high-fives and handshakes,” he added. “People had assumed certain things along the way so not everything was crystal clear. In America you can sort these things in court but even then you don’t get complete clarity.”

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