Great, long form interview with Ralph Bakshi about his production of Lord of The Rings:
Bakshi was an original Ringer fan himself. He walked in the door simply as a visual artist who loved Tolkien’s books. What more earnest way to start such an endeavor? Zaentz brought his business acumen to bear and set up Tolkien Enterprises, which has ever since controlled and licensed all versions of “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” in all media; including movies, stage musicals, video games, and merchandise.
Thus, a money-printing empire was built on the backs of the animators Bakshi had brought together with his singular vision for how Middle-earth could live on film. So it all worked out great for Zaentz, as you can imagine, whose Estate continues to license these properties to other producers, toy-makers, etc.