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Gamer mints ‘Rings’ bling

EA, New Line sign videogame deal

Electronic Arts has made one videogame deal to rule them all.

Vidgame publisher has signed a pact with New Line Cinema extending its rights to make games based on “The Lord of the Rings” franchise using images and actor likenesses from the pic trilogy.

In addition, EA has for the first time made a deal with Tolkien Enterprises, a division of the Saul Zaentz Co. that administers licensing for J.R.R. Tolkien’s literary trilogy, giving it rights to use events and characters from the books not used in the pics.

Both agreements extend through the end of 2007, with options for renewal.

Tolkien Enterprises previously had a deal with Vivendi Universal Games, preventing EA from using any elements outside of New Line’s pics when it made its last four “Lord of the Rings” games.

Financial details weren’t disclosed, but previous long-term deals for established franchises like James Bond have netted well over $10 million.

” ‘Lord of the Rings’ is one of the few universally known pieces of intellectual property applicable in the interactive world, and it was very important to us to consolidate all the rights,” said Neil Young, head of EA’s Los Angeles studio.

Deal is important for New Line, as it not only brings in licensing revenue, but allows the studio to keep “Lord of the Rings” in front of young auds as it continues to exploit the franchise in other media.

EA is developing two “Lord of the Rings” vidgames: “Tactics,” a strategy game for the Sony PSP, aimed for holiday release; and “Battle for Middle Earth 2,” a sequel to last year’s PC strategy game that will debut in early 2006.

Both games will take advantage of the newly consolidated rights set to include characters and locations from the books that weren’t in the films.

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