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New Line Hypes 'Rings' in High-Def

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LOS ANGELES New Line Home Entertainment broke high-definition commercials for the DVD release of Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King this week, a studio executive said.

In advance of the DVD's May 25 release, 15- and 30-second versions of the trailer is running on HDNet and Discovery HD, said Jeff Platt, director of advertising and research at New Line, Beverly Hills, Calif. As a part of the deal, the terms of which were not disclosed, both networks will also air a 6 1/2 minute trailer on all three movies of the trilogy as free media.

Platt said the studio undertook the enterprise—possibly a first in the category of home-format releases—as a way of underscoring the movie's unique popularity and beauty. "Obviously, a movie that won 11 Academy Awards is a natural fit in the HD network," Platt said. "When we presented the idea here, there was no argument from anyone."

In the short history of HD broadcasting, it has been typical, even during high-profile events such as the Super Bowl, to simply stretch out the lower resolution of standard commercials. Platt said here New Line used the 35mm film master of the trailer to create a 1080i HD version, a process it considers worth the extra effort. "It was a little more work on our end because it was the first time," said Platt. "But now that we have gone through the process, we'll just start thinking of it as another format." The HD mastering was done through Omnicom's DDB-owned Ant Farm, Los Angeles, the studio's creative agency for Lord of the Rings audio-video material.

Platt said that the studio is "going to try, in any way we can, to gauge the reaction in the marketplace, and if they are receptive, we would continue [for other releases]. It's just the right thing to do. We have to be on the train." He added, "Ultimately, up-conversion will be associated with someone not up to speed."

Platt said the CPM for the HD broadcasts is still "a little high, but not for the type of viewer we're reaching, the higher-end, techno-savvy consumer." It's also not as if the enterprise is at financial risk: New Line said the home-format release of the first two parts of the film trilogy earned $900 million.