July 26, 2001
Electronic Arts Gets
Gearing up for competition over one of the most valuable entertainment licenses available today, Electronic Arts is expected to announce Wednesday that it has acquired the rights to make games based on New Line Cinemas upcoming Lord of the Rings trilogy of films.
NEW LINE CINEMA reignited the craze for the works of novelist J.R.R. Tolkien with its highly anticipated Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, set for December release. The film is the first of three that will be released each year through 2003, with a cumulative budget of $270 million. Sources close to the matter say that EA will announce only that it has secured rights but will say later what kind of game it will make and when it will release it.
The deal is a coup for Redwood City, Calif.-based EA because its a backdoor way for the game publisher to tap into one of the most valuable game properties of all time. More than 100 million fans have read Tolkiens novels since they were published in the 1930s. The novels inspired the Dungeons & Dragons style of role-playing games that today account for 20 percent of all game sales. The movies have been hyped for months, thanks to New Lines strategy of marketing the film on fan Web sites. Millions of people have downloaded trailers for the first movie even though its months away from release.