Concept: Get everyone who came the first time to come back. On the marketing front, make sure people realize it’s “the central installment”; never use the word ‘sequel’.

Expectations: Giant. In one of the biggest gambles in movie history, New Line spent about $170 million making all three ‘Rings’ pictures at once. Part I was a smash; the AOL Time Warner unit wants a repeat.

The Buzz: The seasons’ big winner. Industry execs think “Two Towers” could be as huge as last year’s “Fellowship of the Ring.” Helping matters is recent video/DVD release of “Fellowship” that may pique the interest of the nine people who didn’t see the first one. “Towers” has even more fighting, the studio says, including epic battle sequences. And then there’s Gollum, the schizophrenic freak whom Frodo and Sam meet on their journey. “He’s got a good side and a bad side,” says New Line marketing chief Russell Schwarts. “I call this ‘A Beautiful Mind’ in Middle-earth.” (nice quote there Russell, blech -Xo)