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Promotions Take Advantage of A Familiar <I>Ring</I>

19 Nov, 2002 By: Holly J. Wagner

Taking advantage of having all three parts of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy in the can, New Line Home Entertainment has done it again with the latest promotional pairing.

The extended release that became available Nov. 12 includes not only the extended cut of the movie (Wow!) and three discs of bonus materials, but tucked into many copies is a free adult movie pass, good for a seat up to $10.50, for the second installment, The Two Towers.

This not only adds value to the video release – essentially reducing the price to be comparable to the first , double-disc release – but the ticket promotion, stickered prominently on packages containing the ticket, will help ensure the early success of the second theatrical release.

The catch, you see, is that consumers must use their ticket vouchers within the first two weeks of the theatrical release. (That information is on the voucher itself, not the external sticker.) The vouchers must be used between Dec. 17 and Dec. 31. That may force some folks to give gifts early, or pillage the presents before actually giving them to use the tickets while they can.

But I suspect the short window won't bother most consumers: Anyone who rushed out to get the extended version instead of waiting to see if one turned up under the Christmas tree is likely to try to see the sequel early in its run anyway. Youths will be out of school for holiday vacations during that time and competition for their attention will be fierce.

For New Line, this tactic is a stroke of genius because it virtually guarantees packed houses from coast to coast, driving up the box office figures for the first two weeks of release. That, in turn, is likely to bring out more audiences to see what all the fuss is about. And you can be sure marketing folks will trot out the box office numbers to promote the home video release when The Two Towers makes its way to disc and tape.

Each step in the series' releases and marketing builds upon the last, each feeding the next step and helping its success. I can't help wondering if this latest wrinkle is coming out of the theatrical or home video marketing budget, or perhaps a combination of the two.

Warner tried a similar tactic with Harry Potter, but the offer had a lower dollar value and was bound to miss some consumers because it was not initially included with the video release. Instead, Warner put tear-off pads into stores in October, months after the initial Sorcerer's Stone home video release, so only the late purchasers were eligible to get a Chamber of Secrets voucher. Also, the voucher has a maximum value of $6.50, less of an incentive than the full ticket price for the Two Towers promo. On the other hand, consumers have four more weeks to use this ticket, from Chamber's opening to Dec. 31. AOL Time Warner's HBO did start airing Sorcerer's Stone Friday, no doubt to whet consumers appetites for Chamber of Secrets on its first day of release.

Maybe it's just that luxury of having all three films in the can that makes New Line look so good; they can plan around release dates much more tightly than when movies in a series are filmed one at a time.

Either way, I'm predicting huge opening weekend numbers for Two Towers, maybe even better than the $88.3 million young master Harry raked in last weekend. Only time will tell.

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