An Ad Age Special Report


12 Standout Enterprises That Drove the Business

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LOS ANGELES ( -- Finding incredible fortune in a return to J.R.R. Tolkein's fantasy kingdom, Time Warner's New Line Cinema was a high-profile leader in the entertainment marketing business this year. Its over-the-top


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success in selling the latest Lord of the Rings installment as well as its stealth Christmas hit Elf put it at the front of the annual Ad Age Entertainment Marketers of the Year Report.

All 12 marketers
New Line is one of 12 different media enterprises that are being honored in this year's Entertainment Marketers list. Articles on all 12 can be found in the full report, offered as a .pdf file, that can be downloaded at the left.

Russell Schwartz, president of domestic marketing at Time Warner's New Line Cinema, suggests that all went well with his enterprise this year because he went so strongly for the heartstrings of the movie-going public.

Emotional drama
Mr. Schwartz focused on the emotional drama of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King to lure back fans of the first two films and broaden the audience to those who hadn't yet latched onto it.

"Our campaign wasn't about 'bigger and better,' " he says. "It was about the story and characters. This was the most emotional, the most human, of all three movies. There was a very big promise of resolution, and that's how we positioned it."

To create a sense of finality and urgency, Mr. Schwartz and his team came up with the tagline "The journey ends."

A true blockbuster
After the first two movies brought in a whopping $660 million domestically, few Hollywood watchers predicted Return of the King could top that. It did. Return of the King has outpaced both previous films in the trilogy, taking in more than $345 million at the U.S. box office alone, and still counting. (It also picked up 11 Oscar nominations).

Release dates, a key part of any marketing strategy, played a crucial role for New Line, with Mr. Schwartz and Rolf Mittweg, the studio's president and chief operating officer of worldwide distribution and marketing, plotting the best course. The studio has prided itself on counterprogramming its competitors, and in no year was that perhaps more evident than 2003.

Ahead of a crowded field
New Line's decision to launch Elf in early November, ahead of such anticipated fare as Walt Disney Co.'s Haunted Mansion and Universal Pictures' The Cat in the Hat, was an attempt to grab the family audience in the pre-holiday window. The Will Ferrell film, which cost a paltry $32 million to produce, pulled in more than $170 million at the domestic box office. It and Lord of the Rings were the two biggest, but not the only, New Line hits in a strong year.

Elf's director, Jon Favreau, says Mr. Schwartz understood the film and didn't try to use Old School, Mr. Ferrell's recent hit, as a touchstone. "I never had to compromise this movie," Mr. Favreau says.

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