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Friday, 6 December, 2002, 09:07 GMT
World debut for next Rings epic
Elijah Wood
Elijah Wood joined his fellow cast members in New York

Stars and fans of the Lord of The Rings have braced freezing New York temperatures and a snowstorm to attend the world première of The Two Towers - the eagerly awaited second cinematic instalment of JRR Tolkien's epic trilogy.

Elijah Wood - known to millions as the Hobbit Frodo Baggins - and Liv Tyler, who plays an Elf called Arwen, mingled on the red carpet for Thursday's première at the Ziegfeld cinema.

They were joined by Peter Jackson, the New Zealand director who has brought Tolkien's epic fantasy to the big screen.

Actress Liv Tyler
Liv Tyler returns as the Elf Arwen

For Jackson, creating this second film was a bit like giving birth.

He told reporters: "It feels great. I only finished this movie three or four weeks ago and I haven't yet recovered from the work that we did so I am still very tired.

"But it's great to get to this point where you send it out into the world. It's time for people to have a look at it, we've worked on it all year."

Tolkien fans know that in the new episode the Fellowship has been splintered with the Hobbit Frodo accompanied by his friend Sam continuing his struggle against evil forces.

Wood thinks The Two Towers delivers an action fantasy with a lot of deeper meaning.

Yoko Ono and her son Sean
Yoko Ono and her son Sean were among the guests

At the première he declared: "There's an incredible message in this movie of how nature is being threatened and nature actually fights back.

"This movie is quite multi-layered so I think people will take various things from it."

Humankind is really under threat in this instalment. It is a story of attempted genocide and the film operates on a grander scale than the first picture.

Special effects

There are impressive computer graphics on display and computer generated characters including the mysterious Gollum, only seen fleetingly before.

Director Peter Jackson
Director Peter Jackson is tired but elated

Gollum is described as looking "like a 60-year-old emaciated heroin addict" by Andy Serkis, the British actor who supplies the character with his distinctive raspy voice.

The freezing weather did not deter Lord of The Rings fans for whom the world première of The Two Towers was a must-see event.

Among those in the crowd was New York student Angela Hoe who had high hopes for the new film.

She said: "I am expecting it to be better than the first one. I think the first one just basically laid down the groundwork as to what we should expect, and I think it should only get better from now on."

Hype

Early word on the movie has been good, although the bulk of the reviews are not yet out.

The Two Towers is dark but it is seen as a picture that may have further appeal because of its emphasis on human struggles, including romance as well as fantasy.

The launch of the film in New York is just the first in a series of premières for The Two Towers.

Actress Miranda Otto
Miranda Otto plays the new character Eowyn

This gradual roll-out is part of a global marketing strategy that will have Hobbits and Elves - or at least the actors who portray them - hopping from continent to continent in the next few days.

After stop-offs in Sydney and Wellington, Paris will be visited for the European première on 10 December, followed by London for the UK debut the next day.

The film will eventually receive its official worldwide release on 18 December.

For fans, it is seen as promotion of cinema art. But for the film's backers it is a marketing effort they hope will enable The Two Towers to surpass the $860m (£547m) worldwide box office takings of the first film.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Tom Brook
"The first in a series of premieres"

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