Warner Bros. hits back at Middle-earth Enterprises over ‘The Lord of the Rings’ film rights

The One Ring - Lord of the Rings
Photo via Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

We previously reported that Middle-earth Enterprises is looking for a way to sell the rights to film, game, and other media adaptations to The Lord of the Rings, but it seems that Warner Bros. is standing its ground over the film rights.

The Zaentz Co., which holds the rights to Tolkien’s fictional world through its subsidiary Middle-earth Enterprises, has been looking for ways to put these numerous licenses up for sale. But the existing agreements with New Line Cinema have led to the development of a little gray area that Zaentz thinks is a matter of interpretation.

Indeed, the company believes that the rights have reverted back to them because Warner Bros. (who owns New Line) hasn’t been actively producing new The Lord of the Rings content.

Warner Bros., however, doesn’t see matters along those lines. Here’s what a company spokesperson recently told Variety:

“New Line Cinema has maintained the theatrical film rights, both live-action and animated, for over two decades now. We are currently in production on our anime film The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim and look forward to bringing audiences back to Middle-earth.

Image via Warner Bros. / The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim

Variety reports that Zaentz has thus far refused to respond, but it’s no secret that the two companies have held many negotiations over the years for the rights to The Lord of the Rings.

To claim that Warner Bros. hasn’t been working on a new project is also another absurdity in this case, as it’s been a while since they announced The War of the Rohirrim. The report of the bidding war even compelled them to do a press release for their new anime a few days ago, so it’ll be interesting to see where this story develops from here.