Before any king can return, New Line Cinema will re-release of the first two “Lord of the Rings” pics worldwide, this time with additional scenes and footage added.
Just two weeks before the Dec. 17 release of “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” — the final installment of the Peter Jackson-helmed epic trilogy — the first two “Ring” entries will be unspooling worldwide.
In memoranda sent to exhibitors on Wednesday, New Line laid out a game plan to promote the third film by refreshing filmgoers’ memories with “The Fellowship of the Ring” and “The Two Towers.”
Plan calls for putting the films on 100-150 screens in top 10 U.S. markets. Many other U.S. cities will have one cinema participating in the special extended edition screenings. Running times for the extended editions are 208 minutes for “Fellowship of the Ring” and 214 minutes for “The Two Towers.”
Advanced ticket sales are scheduled to begin in late September or early October on exhibitor Web sites and movie ticketing sites like Fandango, MovieFone and Movietickets.com.
“The release of the third film affords us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give audiences a compelling new theatrical experience of Peter Jackson’s sprawling vision for this trilogy,” said Rolf Mittweg, prexy and chief operating officer for worldwide distribution and marketing.
The cost, one New Line insider estimated, will be between $10 million and $15 million. Due to the extended length of the new prints, the move is being cast as a promotional tool rather than a moneymaker.
“It is important to note,” the memo says, “that these events are produced as a marketing/publicity stunt and not as a revenue generating opportunity” and that media support will be limited largely to the Internet and participating theaters.
Starting the week of Dec. 5, the extended DVD cut of “Fellowship of the Ring” will be released in some 100 or so theaters in the U.S. and in 20 theaters in Canada.
Then, the week of Dec. 12, sequel “Two Towers” will unspool, just a month after having preemed on DVD, leading up to a worldwide Dec. 16 daylong marathon, during which all three films will be shown back-to-back. Exhib guidelines call for a 3 p.m. showing of “Fellowship” followed by a 7 p.m. screening of “Two Towers” and then an 11 p.m. screening of “Return of the King,” which will carry over into Dec. 17 — the day of its global release.
Overseas, it’s not yet clear whether all exhibs will be showing the new footage-added prints of the previous “Rings” pics. According to one New Line insider, the decision is being left to exhibs, which will make their requests known to New Line in the next few weeks.
Italy and Japan will not immediately be included in the foreign promotional blitz. Italo comedies dominate that country around the holidays, and corporate sibling Warner Bros. will be carpeting Japan with the next “Harry Potter” pic. Triad of “Rings” pics will instead screen in January in Italy and February in Japan.
“King” is produced by Barrie M. Osborne, Fran Walsh and Jackson, with a screenplay by Walsh & Philippa Boyens and Jackson, based on the book by J.R.R. Tolkien.