A "Lord of the Rings" channel on the RealPlayer will serve as thesource for all things Hobbit -- and will hopefully boost ticket sales in theprocess.
New Line Cinema tapped RealNetworks to help in the marketing of its upcoming, big-budget "Lord of the Rings" feature film releases.
According to terms of a four-year marketing partnership for the upcoming "Rings" film trilogy -- based on the fantasy works of J.R.R. Tolkien -- Seattle-based RealNetworks will launch a "Lord of the Rings" channel on its RealPlayer streaming media player.
Along with the films' Web site, the deal makes the "Lord of the Rings" RealChannel one of the two exclusive sources for users to see the films' trailers.
The first film of the triptych, "The Fellowship of the Ring," is slated for a 2001 holiday release, while "The Two Towers" and "The Return of the King" are being released in 2002 and 2003, respectively. Spokespeople from RealNetworks said the channel would be updated weekly through the release of the last film, with RealAudio and RealVideo content including behind-the-scenes footage and interviews.
The promotional partnership between RealNetworks and New Line will extend until 2004 -- encompassing the films' theatrical release as well as their release onto home video and DVD.
"The 'Lord of the Rings' RealChannel will set a promotional benchmark that is unparalleled and marks the most significant entertainment Internet promotion to date," said New Line's Gordon Paddison, senior vice president for worldwide marketing and business development at the studio, a unit of AOL Time-Warner. "In addition to establishing an ongoing relationship with the broad fan base for the Trilogy, this promotion with RealNetworks is in line with our strategic marketing objectives to expand our Internet marketing reach to include hundreds of millions of consumers who currently may not have any exposure to the property."
The decision to use RealPlayer content and a RealChannel deviates somewhat from the way most movies are marketed online -- typically involving banner ads, pictures and downloadables like screen savers. However, few movies have reached the level of fervor generated by the online campaign supporting 1999's The Blair Witch Project".
But with legions of Hobbit-obsessed fans prowling the Web (undertaking activities ranging from fan-submitted fiction and sites to multiuser role-playing games) New Line is banking that by tapping into the epic novels' built-in fan base, the films will see a box-office turnout of appropriately epic proportions.
"We are thrilled to be promotional partners with New Line Cinema on a cultural phenomenon of this proportion," said Richard Cohen, senior vice president for RealNetworks' consumer division. "Through the 'Lord of the Rings' RealChannel, we are able to deliver this epic experience to our 170 million RealPlayer users and the millions of 'Lord of the Rings' fans worldwide ... and help partners like New Line Cinema reach their audiences in new and unprecedented ways."
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