New Line Cinema Taps RealNetworks for “Rings” Marketing

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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