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‘Clones’ ties onto ‘Potter’

Trailer adds to 'Monsters' bow, will reach 7,000 screens

As if audiences needed any more enticement to line up for “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” Lucasfilm said Tuesday it would ship theaters a new trailer for “Star Wars, Episode II — Attack of the Clones” to show before “Harry” on Nov. 16.

The move follows last Friday’s bow of the first 60-second “Episode II” teaser, titled “Breathing,” which played before the Disney/Pixar toon “Monsters, Inc.” before launching on the Internet.

Unlike that unusual deal struck by Pixar and Lucas, which saw the “Star Wars” trailer physically attached to the “Monsters” print, most playtime for trailers before “Harry Potter” will be left up to exhibs. Warner Bros. has nothing to do with it.

However, the decision to team with “Harry Potter” appears significant in terms of exposure: Warners is plotting a record-setting launch on well beyond 3,500 engagements, which would rep at least 7,000 screens. A top distrib exec dismissed widespread industry talk of 8,000 screens, but said the number made final next week “will definitely set records for engagements.”

Past saturation

The broadest pic bow to date is Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible 2” at 3,653 engagements; DreamWorks’ “Shrek” reached 3,715 during its run last summer. (Both of those films played on at least 6,000 screens, though numbers for screens and prints are less commonly tracked than engagements for wide releases.)

Six months before its opening next spring, “Episode II” has aligned itself with two of the biggest 2001 titles — a more high-profile approach than that taken in 1998, when trailers for “Star Wars, Episode I — The Phantom Menace” played before the likes of “Meet Joe Black.”

The second teaser wave also gives Lucasfilm another chance to win over auds who were left confused or unimpressed with the first teaser. Picking up where “Breathing” left off, the new trailer is more than 2 minutes long and features new footage and dialogue, Lucasfilm said.

Separately, Lucasfilm also announced it will attempt to boost sales of its already successful “Episode I” DVD by making the sequel’s first trailer available for viewing at dvd.starwars.com this Friday. Only owners of the DVD will be able to access the trailer, which can be unlocked by the computer with an encoded key. It features footage that doesn’t appear in the first teaser now in theaters.

The “Episode I” DVD sold 2.2 million units in its first week of release, making it one of the biggest sellers on the DVD format, second only to “Shrek,” which sold 2.5 million units in a week.

(Dade Hayes contributed to this story.)

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