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Thursday, 11 January, 2001, 15:55 GMT
Online fans await Tolkien tale
Lord of the Rings
Lord of the Rings opens in cinemas at the end of the year
Millions of Lord of the Rings fans are expected to log on to a website on Friday which accompanies the forthcoming film version of the classic fantasy tale.

The Lord of the Rings film does not open in cinemas until the end of 2001 but New Line Cinema, producers of the film version, have been hard-pressed to keep fans of the best-selling books happy with updates on the movie's progress.

Cate Blanchett
Cate Blanchett stars as Galadriel in Lord of the Rings
More than six million people downloaded a trailer of the film within a week of it being posted on the internet last year .

The relaunch of the website on Friday coincides with the release of a new trailer for the film in cinemas across the world.

Unofficial websites

In the UK it will accompany the film Lost Souls. More than 400 unofficial websites devoted to the forthcoming film have sprung up, according to the New York Times.

The big budget movie version, reported to be more than $100m (60m), stars Sir Ian McKellen as the wizard Gandalf, Cate Blanchett as Galadriel and Sean Bean as Boromir.

The trilogy of novels has been filmed back to back in New Zealand and will be released as three movies over the next few years.

Gordon Paddison, senior vice president for worldwide interactive marketing and business development at New Line cinema, said: "This has taken 30% of my time for over a year, and the commitment of materials and resources has been massive."

JRR Tokien's The Hobbit, written in 1937, was a prequel to The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

It introduced the world to peace-loving creatures called hobbits or halflings, who live in The Shire.

The Lord of the Rings is regularly listed in surveys of the most popular books in Britain.

More than 20 years ago, an animated film version of the first of the Lord of the Rings books was released.

Director Peter Jackson has reassured fans of the books that the film version will remain loyal to Tolkien's vision.

"Tolkien hopefully has a fairly clear voice in the film," he said.

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