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Official Lord of the Rings site goes live today

Trailer out next week

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An official Web site for the much-anticipated film trilogy based on JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings books goes live today (Friday) at 8pm GMT.

Lordoftherings.net, will feature video and audio clips, chat rooms, screen savers, interviews with cast and crew from the film and an interactive map of Middle Earth.

The New York Times reports that in April, when New Line Cinema offered a trailer about the films on a previous site, there were 1.7 million downloads the first day and 6.6 million during the first week. A figure surpassing the previous benchmark of 1.1 million downloads for the Star Wars trailer during its first day on the Internet.

Download fever that accompanied the release of the Star Wars: Episode 1 trailer, which was a whopping 11-25MB in size, paced a severe burden on network infrastructure.

Anticipation for the two minute trilogy trailer of the Tolkien-related film is if anything keener still, with an estimated 400 sites dedicated to the movie trilogy alone, to say nothing of the hundreds related to the book or Tolkien-related themes.

The trailer, which will be seen in Cinemas from tomorrow, will become available online on January 19 and will use streaming media technology from Real Networks.

In large part the web site is an attempt to generate for The Lord of the Rings the kind of viral-marketing which made The Blair Witch Project a surprise hit in 1999.

The first instalment in the film series, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, is due for release in the US on 19 December, and (most unusually) five days earlier on 14 December in the UK.

The second instalment of the trilogy,The Two Towers, is due in December 2002, with the final instalment, The Return of the King, completing the cycle in December 2003. The total budget for the films, which were shot in New Zealand, is a cool $270 million. ®

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