Fox surfs atop London Eye wheel

100-foot Silver Surfer sells 'Four' film

LONDON — Fox is finding even more unique ways to market “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.”

Having already landed the film’s image on U.S. quarters, studio turned to the iconic London Eye observation wheel.

Under cover of darkness, construction workers busily erected a gleaming 100-foot mesh replica of the Silver Surfer comicbook character on the wheel, which is 450 feet high. Result was unveiled Monday, four days before the pic bows in Blighty.

But don’t expect the Eye to become a regular clothes peg for giant PVC movie characters central to summer tentpoles.

“Nothing has ever been attached to the construction of the observation wheel like this before, and it may never again. We do not want to dilute the impact of our partnership with Fox by repeating the feat until at least 2012,” a London Eye rep told Daily Variety.

Fox teamed with London Eye brass from as early as storyboard meetings. Why the Eye? In a scene in the film, the Silver Surfer threatens the Eye, the world’s tallest observation wheel and one of London’s key tourist attractions, and the Fantastic Four save the day.

The giant re-creation of the Silver Surfer character swooping over London is not only for show.

Four of the Eye’s 32 capsules are the setting for the worldwide press junket running Monday through today. Stars Jessica Alba, Ioan Gruffudd, Michael Chiklis and Chris Evans and helmer Tim Story will complete a dizzying 30 revolutions of the wheel in the company of the world’s press.

“From the moment we read the script, we felt this would be an irresistible once-in-a-lifetime event to launch the film,” said Elizabeth Kesses, marketing director of 20th Century Fox U.K.

“Windows are very tight at this time of year, and this co-venture with British Airways (who operates the Eye) gives us a opportunity to create word of mouth in high-traffic areas often not reached by traditional promotional campaigns,” added Kesses.

The stunt has already been given prominent play in London’s competing freesheets.

“Silver Surfer” will look to capitalize on the promotional stunt and keep with the fast pace already set by this summer’s crop of event movie sequels.

So far, “Spider-Man 3,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” and, most recently, “Ocean’s Thirteen,” have all hit paydirt in Blighty on their opening frames.

Films including “Thunderbirds” and “Wimbledon” have shot at the London Eye.

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