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Universal Acquires Rights to Lord of the Rings?

Universal Orlando: Developing....

From Joseph Catlett
Posted January 3, 2013 at 11:14 AM
Orlando United and Al Lutz at Miceage are reporting that the Tolkien family and Universal Studios have struck a deal to bring the Lord of the Rings to the Universal Theme Parks. If this turns out to be true, this is easily the biggest theme park "GET" in 5 years.
Keep an eye open on this developing story.


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From Tim Hillman
Posted January 3, 2013 at 11:22 AM
Utterly fantastic if it is true.

From robert morris
Posted January 3, 2013 at 11:33 AM
So I guess Universal found a replacement for Toon Lagoon and Marvel Superhero Island

From Dominick D
Posted January 3, 2013 at 11:53 AM
This is very exciting!

PS, I don't trust Miceage on rumors, they're full of crap.

From James Rao
Posted January 3, 2013 at 11:58 AM
The article referenced (by Eric Davis, not Al Lutz) says "[Universal] is close to a deal..." which is not as final as the header for this thread would indicate. I am crossing my fingers and hoping for the best, but until the ink is drying on the paper, I won't get my hopes up too high! These rumors have been swirling for at least three or four years.

Still... how cool! Far as I am concerned Universal can just retrofit all the Harry Potter stuff with LOTR attractions and expand out into the rest of the Lost Continent. I find LOTR to be a much more interesting franchise than HP. For that matter, Universal could just make IOA a LOTR Park! Now that would be sweet!

From robert morris
Posted January 3, 2013 at 12:13 PM
Thinking Toon Lagoon for Hobbit

and Marvel goes darker for the LOTR

also its on Behind the Thrills and Orlando United

From Rob Pastor
Posted January 3, 2013 at 12:19 PM
Exciting news if the deal closes. Universal is really going full throttle. They see a weakness in WDW's cautious new attraction stance and appear to be going for the juggler. Excellent business stategies. It's good to see a corporation put emphasis on long term profits over short term gains. That's the reason that corps like Apple & Google have grown while corps that get complacent like Microsoft & Hewlitt Packard face dwindling market share. Eric Davis of Mice Age puts it well when he says that Universal Creative's new motto is "Go BIG or go HOME". Well said.....Universal excites me. Can't wait to go back in 2014 when some of the construction walls will be down. I'm going to Disney for two weeks in April 2013. I'll enjoy the vacation for sure. I really like Disney. But the excitement isn't there for me like it is with Universal. Universal is turning my future vacation plans upside down. Instead of splitting equally between Universal & Disney, I may decide to do 2 Universal vacations for each Disney....But I hope they leave the water rides in Toon Lagoon. They're the best. It just seems a natural for Lord of the Rings in Lost Continent. I would guess that's where it would be most apt to go if the licensing agreement is reached. Or, a third park if land acquisition occurs.

From James Rao
Posted January 3, 2013 at 12:44 PM
"Go Big or Go Home".... interesting variation on the Six Flags motto: "Go Big! Go Six Flags!" Hope Universal doesn't copy anything else from Six Flags...

I do question Eric's imagination just a bit... I can think of a lot better attractions than the following: "...take a carriage ride through the Shire and visit the home of Bilbo Baggins...wandering the pristine stone and water passageways of Rivendell for a visit..."

Not the kind of experiences I want from Universal. Now, that Mordor coaster...that's what I'm talking about!!! Fire Mountain, anyone?

From Bryce McGibeny
Posted January 3, 2013 at 1:09 PM
This is exciting, but I hope they don't touch Marvel or Lost Continent. Maybe Toon Lagoon? Though, losing Popeye & Dudley would be devastating. Ugh.

From Rob Pastor
Posted January 3, 2013 at 1:06 PM
On some other sites the other possible locations being bandied about are the employee parking lot (if a nearby land acquisition goes through), the area between and back of Simpsons & Men In Black, San Francisco & back soundstage areas, or a land acquisition for a third gate. Thoughts?

From Dominick D
Posted January 3, 2013 at 1:58 PM
But James, One does not simply walk into Mordor!

From Rob Pastor
Posted January 3, 2013 at 3:26 PM
Hate to Fly, Orlando United's staff member who is generally the most reliable Universal insider, says that if the rights are obtained, Toon Lagoon is not the area LOTR will go in.

From James Rao
Posted January 3, 2013 at 3:40 PM
Oh, Dom, I would. Fo' sho', I ain't afraid of no...uh...Nazg├╗ls!

From Jeff Elliott
Posted January 3, 2013 at 3:48 PM
I can't understand what all the fuss is about a movie they couldn't even be bothered with finishing.

From James Rao
Posted January 3, 2013 at 4:25 PM
Long live Ralph Bakshi!!!!

From Dominick D
Posted January 3, 2013 at 5:10 PM

From Rob Pastor
Posted January 3, 2013 at 5:20 PM
James: I saw that when it came out back in the 70's. That was a risque animated film. Some terrific scenes.

From N B
Posted January 3, 2013 at 5:54 PM
I'll hold my breath on this one.... but I guess it would be cool if it is true. I'm not sure where it would go, UOR seems to be running out of real estate unless they tear down all of those unused former Nick Studios buildings between the parks.

From Andrew Dougherty
Posted January 3, 2013 at 6:40 PM
A third park would be nice.

From James Rao
Posted January 3, 2013 at 6:41 PM
Rob, Bakshi's LOTR wasn't too bad, but some of his other cartoons.... yikes!

From Rob Pastor
Posted January 3, 2013 at 7:37 PM
Yikes! Yes, that' a good word for them.

From J. Dana
Posted January 9, 2013 at 12:39 AM
I wonder, though....if the deal was struck directly with the Tolkein estate, then it seems that Peter Jackson's version of LOTR and Hobbit won't be part of it...I mean, it will still be fun, but fans of Jackson's FANTASTIC film adaptations (myself included) will be kinda disappointed...don't get me wrong, I love the books and I love the idea of a Hobbiton in Orlando....but I sure would love for Jackson's vision to be incorporated too....along with that awesome soundtrack! Hopefully something is being worked out.

From Matt Babiak
Posted January 9, 2013 at 5:01 AM
..And Disney picked Avatar. Wow. If you walked up to me and said "we are looking for a theme for our next land", I would have said Harry Potter, then LOTR, with Avatar not even in the back of my mind.

From James Rao
Posted January 9, 2013 at 6:31 AM
FWIW, there has been no announcement that Universal bought LOTR. It is just a long standing rumor many of us hope comes true.

Also, if Disney did not get Avatar, you know Universal would have been in the hunt. Someone was going to purchase the rights to the #1 film of all time.

From Don Neal
Posted January 9, 2013 at 6:34 AM
You also have to understand that Avatar was something that fit at Animal Kingdom and we have no idea what kind of deals were struck between James Cameron and Disney that made that happen. I don't see it as the exact same thing when comparing it to the LOTR.

Besides, Disney got Star Wars which has more content from all of the characters, stories, movies, cartoons, toys, books, games, etc than LOTR and Harry Potter combined.

From robert morris
Posted January 10, 2013 at 6:09 AM
I think most people would have disagree that Star Wars has more material than LOTR and Harry Potter combined

Yes space is infinite and yes Staw Wars could supply and enitre park as could Harry Potter and LOTR

Heck so could the Simpsons

From Don Neal
Posted January 10, 2013 at 6:44 AM
If you look at the following information, you may wish to change your mind... ;)

There are over 70 Star Wars stories that have been published in book form.

There are 6 major motion pictures that are part of the core story.

There have been a handful of other films such as Clone Wars, Christmas Special, Droids, Ewoks, and others.

There have been several successful series including Clone Wars, the franchises inclusion and crossover into Robot Chicken, Family Guy, the Muppets, and many other popular brands.

Over 3,500 Star Wars action figures have been produced over the years.

There have been over 100 video games produced over the years.

According to George Lucas, the Star Wars universe includes 17,000 characters inhabiting several thousand planets spanning 20,000 years.

Lucas already had many movies, stories in mind based on that universe aside from all the other creative mediums listed above.

The Marvel universe might be the only one that could even come close to this amount of creative content.

LOTR and Harry Potter, while amazing series, are limited to a handful of books, movies, and a small amount of these other creative mediums.

From Tim Hillman
Posted January 10, 2013 at 7:43 AM
You forgot one thing on your list, Don....

one theme park attraction cloned in 4 parks.

Way to go, Disney!

From James Rao
Posted January 10, 2013 at 11:04 AM
^And at least three more NEW movies on the way that will be produced without the oppressive influence of Mr. Lucas. No more Jar Jar, no more Ewoks, no more cheesy love story dialogue... just balls-to-the-wall action and excitement, the way STAR WARS was intended to be before George's brains collapsed into his goiter.

From robert morris
Posted January 11, 2013 at 6:17 AM
17000 characters and about 10 people would actually care about and spend money to see

From Don Neal
Posted January 11, 2013 at 6:42 AM
I just don't see how Disney sits on all of this. DHS is screaming to be expanded with Star Wars and Pixar. It could legitimately become the best park in the US with the addition of a Pixarland and a Star Wars area.

The Lights Motor Action and the Studio Backlot Tour are prime for replacement and a natural extension of Pixar Place. With the Honey I Shrunk the Kids a natural for a Bug's Life themed play area.

And the Echo Lake area could easily become a Star Wars area. The Indiana Jones stunt show, American Idol theater, Backlot Express, and Jedi training areas would make a for a great couple of rides, new Jedi experience, and Cantina restaurant.

From Mike Gallagher
Posted January 11, 2013 at 7:51 AM
+1 for Mr. Morris.

(although that's 10 more than *I* care about.

From TH Creative
Posted January 11, 2013 at 11:21 AM
There's an interesting distinction between Universal Creative and Walt Disney Imagineering -- wherein WDI creates stories and attraction contents based upon original ideas (stories) as opposed to re-imagining the ideas of other storytellers.

Certainly Disney has traded upon the public domain (Snow White, Cinderella, etc.) But still many of the parks' most popular attractions (Soarin', Everest, Tower of Terror, Rockin' Rollercoaster) have storylines that are original.

It's also interesting that Disney attractions have become movies as opposed to movies becoming attractions.

But I love how Universal creates its own stories about established franchises. 'Men In Black: Alien Attack' in particular has a great story.

From Andy Milito
Posted January 11, 2013 at 3:38 PM
My response to Don is in bold:

There are over 70 Star Wars stories that have been published in book form. (Most of which nobody seems to know about)

There are 6 major motion pictures that are part of the core story.(Several of which were panned by critics and fans alike

There have been a handful of other films such as Clone Wars, Christmas Special, Droids, Ewoks, and others.(None of those were successful enough to be well-known by everyone)

There have been several successful series including Clone Wars, the franchises inclusion and crossover into Robot Chicken, Family Guy, the Muppets, and many other popular brands.(I sure hope you don't think that Disney will have Robot Chicken or Family Guy references in their parks...)

Over 3,500 Star Wars action figures have been produced over the years.(Ok... that just means good merchandising)

There have been over 100 video games produced over the years.(Only a few were decent (Force Unleashed, Shadows of the Empire), and the LEGO ones would take more licensing)

According to George Lucas, the Star Wars universe includes 17,000 characters inhabiting several thousand planets spanning 20,000 years.(Like Robert said, there's only a handful of them that fans actually care about)

Lucas already had many movies, stories in mind based on that universe aside from all the other creative mediums listed above.(I don't think ANYONE wants a Star Wars story from Lucas anymore...)

The Marvel universe might be the only one that could even come close to this amount of creative content.(That's arguable...)

LOTR and Harry Potter, while amazing series, are limited to a handful of books, movies, and a small amount of these other creative mediums.(There's been plenty of video games, toys, movies, stories, and other media for HP/LOTR)

I'm not saying Star Wars shouldn't have a presence in theme parks, I just think LOTR and Harry Potter should have as just as much presence as Star Wars may.

From Dominick D
Posted January 11, 2013 at 6:51 PM
Insiders over at WDWMagic are saying it's a done deal. And by done deal I mean a dead deal. The Tolkien's didn't come to an agreement with Universal.

From James Rao
Posted January 13, 2013 at 1:13 PM
@Andy I don't think anyone is opposed to Lucas-developed Star Wars story, we just don't want him writing the script or directing. His stories are fine.

From Andy Milito
Posted January 13, 2013 at 3:12 PM
Yeah, I guess that's true.

From Don Neal
Posted January 13, 2013 at 8:11 PM
@Andy: the quality or popularity of the content was not the focus of the discussion just the fact that there is far more creative content so far for Star Wars than the other two.

From chris cona
Posted January 13, 2013 at 8:16 PM
Lord of the rings sucks never knew one person who likes that movie and I would take Cars and Harry over Lord of the rings and avatar any day

From James Trexen
Posted January 13, 2013 at 8:51 PM
"Lord of the rings sucks never knew one person who likes that movie and I would take Cars and Harry over Lord of the rings and avatar any day"

Yep, I guess a trilogy that manages to gross $2,917,506,956 sucks. Not sure what it means, other than 3 people paying *alot* of money for a movie ticket.

From Dominick D
Posted January 13, 2013 at 9:24 PM
Chris, let me tell you something. I use to hate LOTR. I thought it was boring and overrated. A few months ago I decided to give it aother chance and fell in love with it. It is without a doubt better than Harry Potter, Avatar, and Cars. And on your statement that nobody likes it, then tell me why Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers got nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, and Return of the King holds the record for the most Academy Awards won by a film (tied with Titanic and Ben-Hur), including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay?

From Wilson Matt
Posted January 14, 2013 at 1:26 AM
@ Chris

You do realize that The Lord of the Rings is the second best-selling novel of the 20th Century, having sold more than any other book other than the Bible world-wide? And that the film series were all highly-acclaimed, incredibly successful movies? I'm not even sure if you're being serious here, but I'll say this one last thing: There wouldn't be any Harry Potter or any Star Wars without The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

From Matt Babiak
Posted January 14, 2013 at 4:33 AM
@Wilson
Star Wars movies came out decades before LOTR movies did, so I don't understand how you can possibly say that without the LOTR movies there would be no Star Wars.

From Javi Badillo
Posted January 14, 2013 at 8:37 AM
he meant the books which came out in the fifties, not the movie.

From Wilson Matt
Posted January 14, 2013 at 8:53 AM
@ Matt

...not sure if serious...

From Andrew Dougherty
Posted January 14, 2013 at 2:07 PM
The Silence of the Lambs would be a nice little ride it was critically successful and commercially success full. Also, multi-oscar winning and was made from a book. It spawned two decent sequels also.

From Mike Gallagher
Posted January 14, 2013 at 2:34 PM
Yeah, and it'll feature an attached restaurant that serves fava beans and Chianti, along with various types of meat. No bacon, though :(

From N B
Posted January 14, 2013 at 3:06 PM
Wilson is absolutely correct. The only book above LOTR is Dicken's: A Tale of Two Cities.

This being said, I am less interested about seeing LOTR come to any Universal park than I am about Avatar possibly coming to Animal Kingdom.

From Rob Pastor
Posted January 14, 2013 at 4:03 PM
Orlando United is saying that LOTR is not anywhere near a done deal at this time.

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