”One ring to rule them all…” The incantation is enough to start fans of the ”Lord of the Rings” trilogy drooling. At least that’s what New Line Cinema hopes for its ”Fellowship of the Ring,” the first of three movies based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle earth fantasies. The cast — which includes Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Liv Tyler, and Elijah Wood as ”Ring” leader Frodo Baggins — spent more than a year in New Zealand filming the pictures back to back.
Those unacquainted with Baggins’ merry crew will soon be: The studio is honing an exhaustive marketing campaign — which began with a lavish Internet site launched in May 1999 — for the $270 million trilogy, set to open during three consecutive Christmas seasons. At the center of all this frenzy: directer Peter Jackson, whose biggest flick to date is 1996’s $16.8 million grossing ”The Frighteners.”
New Line, however, has full confidence in the longtime Tolkien freak. ”This is a life’s work for him,” says Michael Lynne, the studio’s president and COO. ”He really is a horse to be able to do it at all — it’s an incredible undertaking.” Of mythic proportions.