The Fellowship of the Ring London Premiere

Tuesday December 11 02:32 AM EST
Fellowship of celebs, fans, brass at 'Rings' premiere
By Stuart Kemp

LONDON (The Hollywood Reporter) --- A cold, wintry December night couldn't keep away thousands of fans who lined the streets here Monday to get a glimpse of about 2,000 attendees at the world premiere of New Line Cinema's "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."

The event, held at the Odeon theater chain's flagship cinema -- the 2,000-seat Odeon Leicester Square, London -- was a glittering occasion as audience members entered the theater, which was adorned with several metal rings affixed above the cinema's walkway leading into the theaters.
"Rings" director Peter Jackson was joined by several cast members, including Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortenson, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, Ian Holm, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, Sean Bean and Andy Serkis. (The film's Cate Blanchett was not in attendance, having delivered a baby last week.)

Several New Line executives turned out in support, including Robert Shaye and Michael Lynne, New Line Cinema co-chairmen and co-CEOs; Rolf Mittweg, president and chief operating officer of worldwide distribution and marketing; and Fine Line Features president Mark Ordesky, who served as an executive producer on the film.

Others who came to get a look at the much-anticipated film included Bob Geldof, actress Amanda Holden, U.K. Saturday morning TV presenter Cat Deeley and British comedian Frank Skinner.
Shaye, in remarks to the audience before the film unspooled, said, "The things that went into making this movie were fidelity, passion and a great deal of love."

Shaye specifically thanked Jackson by name but said he couldn't thank the entire cast and all the writers and production people, quipping: "There's 11 1/2 minutes of end credits that take care of that."
Shaye also thanked Ordesky.

Lynne acknowledged Trevor and Nigel Green, co-chiefs of indie Entertainment Films, which is distributing "Rings" in the United Kingdom.

Of Lynne and Shaye, Jackson said, "They gave me money and the second-greatest thing a filmmaker can have -- they gave me trust."

Jackson went on to acknowledge members of the crew who had flown in from New Zealand and the United States to be at the premiere. He also name-checked his co-scriptwriters Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh.

Among others the director acknowledged was producer Saul Zaentz, who was in attendance Monday. Zaentz owned the rights to "Rings" when Jackson inquired about them six years ago.

Jackson then called on Ordesky to come up and take a bow. That was followed by an introduction of the major cast, who also came onstage for bows.

In explaining why the premiere for a film shot in New Zealand and funded by American cash was held in England, Jackson said, "It is based on one of England's greatest books and pays tribute to the man who started it all, J.R.R. Tolkien."

Jackson ended his speech by saying: "New Line has been a wonderful studio to work with. I can't praise them highly enough. But 'Lord of the Rings' is the star of the show."

Cheers erupted at the film's conclusion. Attendees at the postparty lavished praise on the film, calling it "extraordinary" and "jaw dropping." One said that "the special effects lit up the imagination."

New Line and Entertainment co-hosted an extravagant postpremiere party at a converted dockside warehouse on the banks of the river Thames in East London.

Organizers transformed the venue Tobacco Dock into the seven areas of the story's Middle Earth setting.

Waiters were dressed as characters from the film, including hobbits and other Middle Earth dwellers. A live band, meanwhile, banged out pop tunes.

As guests queued to get into the venue, they passed by roasting suckling pigs, lumps of roast ham and heated chestnuts.

The first in a series of three epic installments, the film, which runs nearly three hours, details the story of Frodo Baggins and his perilous quest based on the works by Tolkien, the late English philologist, fantasy writer and professor of medieval literature.

"Rings," due for worldwide general release Dec. 19, is hoping to conjure up the same boxoffice magic for New Line's parent company, AOL Time Warner, that another wizard, Harry Potter, has done for the Warner Bros. release "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" (aka "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" in certain territories, including the United States).

The boxoffice feeding frenzy for advanced tickets is well under way, with the three main U.K. theater chains -- Odeon Cinemas, Warner Village Cinemas and UCI Cinemas -- declaring meltdown on telephone and online sales already.

Odeon Cinemas said the chain has generated more than £500,000 ($710,000) from advance ticket sales for its 599-screen network across its 108 U.K. sites for the film.

Online interest is staggering, according to a representative for Warner Village Cinemas, which put the tickets on sale Nov. 23.

The theater chain, a joint venture run by Warner Bros. and Australia's Village Roadshow, said it has sold 44,000 tickets to date. About 45% of that total has been sold via its online booking service, eclipsing online interest for "Potter," which was running at about 30% of all ticket sales.

UCI Cinemas, which put tickets up for grabs Nov. 19, also reported strong prebooking levels of about 42,000 ticket sales to date for its 36 sites and 369 U.K. screens.

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