Verizon Wireless, New Line Team Up On ‘Rings’ Promo

With the Christmas blockbuster season just weeks away, AOL Time Warner’s New Line Cinema and Verizon Wireless have announced a two-year promotional deal for the next two installments of New Line’s “Lord of the Rings” franchise.

The deal, terms of which were not disclosed, includes an array of promotional vehicles, including a co-branded Web site; wireless trivia games and sweepstakes; and broadcast and print sponsorship. New Line’s “Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,” the second installment of the film adaptation of the J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy, debuts on Dec. 18.

“‘Lord of the Rings’ devotees will see how our services easily integrate with their special interests,” said John Stratton, vice president and chief marketing officer at Verizon Wireless.

Verizon Wireless, the No. 1 U.S. wireless carrier, has never promoted a movie before, according to a spokesperson, but the deal may be a harbinger of things to come, if trends in Europe and Asia are any indication. The “Rings” deal calls for the Bedminster, N.J.-based company to promote the films through its wireless services, including Mobile Web and Get It Now!. Users will have a variety of interactive options, including wireless gaming, sweepstakes, and “Rings” mobile communities. New York-based Upoc, a wireless text messaging service, will host the mobile communities. Now defunct Finnish wireless entertainment company Riot Entertainment designed the “Rings” multi-player text-messaging game, “The Battle for Middle-Earth.”

Verizon Wireless and New Line have launched a co-branded Web site, www.verizonwireless.com/lotr, which carries exclusive content and will complement the movie’s official site, www.lordoftherings.net. Verizon Wireless will sponsor a sweepstakes on Moviefone.com, in addition to gaining brand exposure as the sole sponsor of the WB Network’s broadcast of the first “Rings” installment, “Fellowship of the Ring.”

New Line’s interactive push is part of a massive promotional effort on behalf “The Two Towers.” The first installment of the trilogy raked in $860 million worldwide, making it New Line’s most successful movie of the year.

In addition to the Verizon Wireless deal, New Line will leverage fellow AOL Time Warner unit AOL to promote the movie. For example, the movie’s trailer was first shown exclusively on AOL and the online channel will heavily promote the film. New Line signed a deal last year with Electronic Arts to develop video games based on the trilogy for Nintendo’s GameCube, Microsoft’s XBox and Sony’s PlayStation 2. “The Two Towers” game was recently released by EA.

The final movie of the “Rings” trilogy, “The Return of the King,” is slated for release on Dec. 17, 2003.

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