The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King: According to Video Business, departing from tradition, New Line Cinema is releasing the extended edition DVD of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in December.

That falls outside of the holiday shopping primetime of mid-November--when the past two deluxe versions of the series, LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring and LOTR: The Two Towers, hit stores. Still, New Line sources say the switch will not necessarily hurt sales. Consumers have been aware for months about an upcoming extended take on Return of the King, given the bows of ones for Fellowship and Two Towers. Its December rollout will simply compress buying into a shorter window, sources explain.

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Of course, the bigger picture, they admit, is that the bulk of LOTR DVD revenues stem from New Line's theatrical version-only titles. And Return of the King's is off to a fast gallop (VB, May 31).

Return of the King's extended edition took longer to produce because cast members, now filming new projects, had to be rounded up from all over to complete their commentaries.