Precious LOTR rights bounce back to Warner Bros.

Back in 2001, Warner Bros. sold off their Lord of the Rings licensing rights to EA, allowing the gargantuan publisher to unleash a slew of games based on the popular movie franchise in the past seven years. Now, according to Variety, that deal has expired and WB will likely start publishing LOTR games themselves with their videogame subsidiary, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.

Although things are quiet on the LOTR movie front right now, a pair of flicks based on The Hobbit are due in 2011 and 2012, ensuring plenty of game adaptation opportunities.

In related news, WB’s licensing agreement with EA concerning the Harry Potter films runs through Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 in 2011, so it will be awhile before WB can get those rights back. However, that apparently hasn’t stopped WB-owned developer Traveller’s Tales from working on a LEGO Harry Potter game. Previous LEGO adventures based on Indiana Jones and Star Wars were published by LucasArts, but the Batman version was published by WB Interactive. Only time will tell whether EA’s Harry Potter deal extends to allow them to publish the LEGO game.