Lord of the Rings in a Theme Park - Will It Ever Happen?

July 25, 2023, 3:50 PM

A while back with the changing of the leadership at the Tolkien Estate, I had hopes we would be seeing a LOTR/Hobbit land in a theme park in the near future. In 2017, Amazon got the global rights to make the Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power series for television, but so far, no themed entertainment venue has announced that they have unambiguous rights to build a theme park/land/ride based on Tolkien's works. Is this ever going to happen?

Replies (6)

July 25, 2023, 4:06 PM

There's only two companies that I could see bidding for it, unless SEVEN comes in and buys the rights for a LOTR park in Saudi. (The Mordor jokes write themselves there, don't they?)

So we're talking Disney and Universal here. Disney won't bite unless it can own the whole thing and leverage it across all its channels. That leaves Universal, which has no incentive to overbid if it knows that it's the only player in the game. I also think that Universal is beginning to head into Disney's direction in wanting its own IP in its parks. So that also depresses the amount of money that Universal would be willing to pay.

Embracer Group (they still own the LOTR rights, right?) won't want to sell for a low price, so unless the Saudis jump in, I don't see this property moving into a park anytime soon. I hope I'm wrong, though.

Edited: July 25, 2023, 9:09 PM

I just don't see a Lord of the Rings land as likely at this point in time. For most of the public, their exposure to the franchise is solely through the Peter Jackson trilogy, which is now twenty years old and would likely be over thirty by the time a land were to debut. Given that purchasing the rights would likely be very expensive (not to mention the development and construction costs of the project afterward) and the level of appeal with modern theme park audiences is questionable (especially compared to more current IPs), it's not likely something that's currently being looked at for any park that'd consider it. Plus, as cool as LOTR sounds on paper, it's not a property that would be easy to develop as a compelling land without taking some massive liberties with regards to continuity.

July 26, 2023, 9:39 AM

I think Robert is right here. Disney won't go for it because they can't own the whole thing. I also agree that Universal is probably moving away from having so many licensing lands. Similar to Disney I doubt they would go for it unless they could own the whole thing. A LOTR land would be Harry Potter money to build and it's probably not a good idea to have 2 lands that expensive that aren't your property.

July 26, 2023, 10:13 AM

If you asked this question 10 years ago, I think it would be easy to predict that Universal would jump on this licensing opportunity in a heartbeat, and it would eventually form the backbone of a new theme park for their Orlando resort. However, now that they've filled that new park with IPs under their control (and existing licensing agreement), I just can't see them spending the millions needed to buy the rights to LOTR and then another billion or more to find ways to integrate the IP into their parks.

As Robert noted, if Disney were to purchase the theme park rights, it would need to include all of the rights to IP, which just isn't going to happen. Also, I don't think LOTR really fits into Disney's parks.

That means it would be up to some other theme park company to buy the rights, which would likely come from the Middle East, and I'm not even sure if that part of the world would even have strong feelings for LOTR.

July 26, 2023, 9:50 PM

The Embracer group paid $396M for limited rights to the LOTR franchise and it apparently includes the rights for theme park attractions but not the books (reserved to the Tolkien Estate) and not the stories already covered by Warner Bros/New Line Cinema. And Amazon has a separe deal with the Tolkien Estate for the Rings of Power television series. That's a lot of money for what basically turns out to be the rights to board games, video games, new television series and movies based on the remaining Tolkien works and stories, and LOTR/Hobbit merchandise.

I just don't see them getting a return on that investment, and it looks like they're already under pressure from their shareholders to recoup some money from what looks to be a bad investment.

One can only hope for a fire sale, and Universal or Disney can pick up the theme park rights on the cheap.

July 27, 2023, 11:42 AM

I would never want Disney to own the rights to LOTR. Not because I think they couldn't build something amazing if they wanted to but rather its more likely they would buy it and sit on it forever! Or they would cheap out like they quite often do and we would get another Web Slinger situation! :(

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