Rings Trilogy to Lord Over December

Look for a serious decline in worker productivity among the J.R.R. Tolkien set this December. According to the marketing plans of New Line Cinema, Lord of the Rings films are going to be wall-to-wall pre-Christmas 2003, as the studio ramps up for the release of the third and final Rings chapter, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

Before the Dec. 17 debut of the latest installment, New Line is planning to re-release the first two films and in extended form with new footage added. On Dec. 5, the 208-minute version of Fellowship of the Ring will be released in 100-plus U.S. theaters. The week of Dec. 12 will be even more saturated with Frodo and his gang. In addition to what will then be the just released DVD version of the second chapter, a 214-minute version of The Two Towers will hit multiplexes worldwide.

If that’s not exhausting enough, on Dec. 16, New Line’s plans call for a worldwide, daylong marathon in which all three films will be shown back-to-back. What watching more 10 hours of Tolkien on film will do to people is anyone’s guess. Studio execs are stressing that the two-week event is more a marketing opportunity for the third film than a revenue generator. The costs to mount the campaign is being estimated in the $10 to $15 million ballpark, according to Daily Variety.

Advanced ticket sales are to begin in late September.