New Line ‘Rings’ in pic campaign

Imported film sets, costumed characters set evening's atmosphere

CANNES — Frodo lives! But who knew he lived in the south of France?

Even jaded Cannes party-goers were impressed at New Line’s spectacular whoop-de-doo Sunday night, which was part backyard barbecue and part Renaissance Pleasure Faire, but on a very grand scale.

The evening of Middle-earth high life was the culmination a four-day media blitz to kick off the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Using the sets imported from New Zealand, the pic’s production designers decorated the interior of the Chateau de Castellaras — the venue was particularly well-cast for the event — and the large grounds surrounding the castle. The site featured everything from giant ogres and gargoyles to Hobbit holes; even the portable toilets were charmingly decorated.

Costumed characters wandered amid 1,000 guests and the tables loaded with food and booze. At one end of the grounds, a seven-person bagpipe-and-strings group played; at the other end, guests danced to a band offering rock, Cole Porter and salsa.

New Line co-chairman and co-CEO Michael Lynne summed up the company’s relief and enthusiasm at the reaction of media and investors to the 25 minutes of footage screened at Cannes.

Lynne admits that Hollywood execs are famous for feigning enthusiasm for big-budget projects, “but this is different. You can feel it at this party. This project is a once-in-a-career opportunity.”

Also at the fete were New Line execs Bob Shaye, Rolf Mittweg and Mark Ordesky, director Peter Jackson and the film’s stars, plus honchos like Renny Harlin, Steve Reuther, Steve Stabler and Harvey Weinstein.

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