"Lord of the Rings" Continues

Posted by jgaudiosi :: Hollywood & Video Games

Lord At the recent Hollywood and Games Summit, Steve Gray, executive producer of "The Lord of the Rings" franchise at Electronic Arts, showed some new footage of a next generation "Lord of the Rings" game. This isn't the new Xbox 360 "Battle for Middle-earth II" game that's shipping soon. It's another original game set within the book and film worlds that Gray referred to as a "story construction kit." This is likely the next generation game EA LA Studio Head Neil Young mentioned to me a year or so back when talking about the expansion of the game franchise beyond the films.

By acquiring the Tolkien book license last year, EA has unified the film and book rights for the first time. "Battle for Middle-earth II" is the first game to incorporate the two fictions into a single game. With the additional literary material, EA has a lot more leeway to tackle this property moving forward. And because EA came to the movie licensing table rather late in the game, completely skipping the first film, next gen games can give the publisher a chance to fully explore "The Fellowship of the Ring" in game form.

New Line Home Entertainment is still milking the film franchise with a new version of the trilogy which offers fans both the theatrical and extended cuts of the films in one collection. This will lead to additional marketing of the brand with consumers. EA is forging into new real-time strategy territory on Xbox 360 with "Battle for Middle-earth II," which was designed from the ground up for the next gen console.

If there's a franchise that can live on beyond the films that doesn't have the name "Star Wars," it's "Lord of the Rings." At the same time that EA is looking to more original IPs over Hollywood brands like James Bond, "Lord of the Rings" is one franchise that offers fantasy game opportunities across genres.

Also at the Hollywood and Games Summit, Keith Boesky of Boesky and Co. said that the average gamer invests 228 hours per year gaming, while the average movie viewer spends 19.8 hours per year watching movies. That statistic is remarkable when you consider that 69 percent of adults play games and 65 percent of adults have seen at least one movie in 2005. The real divergence comes in the age of gamers (average age is 33) compared to movie goers (average age 24).

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