New Lord of the Rings site aims to please masses

Site relaunches amid unprecedented Internet interest

The promotional website for the most eagerly awaited fantasy film of the new millennium Lord of the Rings was relaunched by New Line Cinema early Friday, in anticipation of the first episode's debut later this year.

The new site, which includes cast interviews, a shop, a community and other features, coincides with the launch of the first Lord of the Rings trailer in UK and US cinemas. The movie's Web site broke all download records last June with the launch of an Internet-only preview trailer, which was downloaded 1.7 million times on the first day. The previous record was held by a trailer for George Lucas' Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

Beginning Friday the new cinema trailer will open for New Line films Lost Souls in the UK and Thirteen Days in the US. Fans are expected to go to both films for the trailer, and then walk out before the film, as they did with the Phantom Menace preview. Enthusiastic fans working for cinema houses have already posted reviews of the trailer on sites such as TheOneRing.net.

Although the first instalment of Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, is not due for release until December 2001, anticipation on the Internet has already reached unprecedented levels with both promotional and unofficial Web sites documenting the progress of filming in New Zealand.

The second part of the JRR Tolkien trilogy, The Twin Towers, will be released in 2002 and the conclusion, The Return of the King, a year later.

The trilogy has cost £137m and boasts a star-studded cast including Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf the wizard, Sean Bean as Boromir and Cate Blanchett as Galadriel.

Will Knight contributed to this report.

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