New Line Cinema has set the release schedule for its epic $150m adventure movie The Golden Compass, almost exactly duplicating the rollout of The Fellowship Of The Ring in 2001.

The film is having a major promotional launch today, just as Fellowship did at Cannes 2001, with a press conference and photo call as well as a screening of 20 minutes of footage.

Director Chris Weitz and stars including Daniel Craig, Eva Green and Dakota Blue Richards are all here, although Nicole Kidman is shooting in Australia.

The world premiere will take place in London on Nov 26 followed by the first territorial openings in France and Spain on Wed Dec 5 and in Germany and Holland on Thursday Dec 6.

The rest of the world, including North America, opens on Dec 7, except Italy which goes one week later on Dec 14 and Australia on Dec 26. Japan will open three months later on March 1. Those openings were the same for Fellowship.

Not all the distributors are the same as on the Rings trilogy; Gaga has Japan, Tri Pictures has Spain and RAI has Italy while Warner Bros is handling eastern Europe as well as Germany and Switzerland. And of course, New Line is only releasing the first film before going into production on the second; the three films in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy were also shot back to back by director Peter Jackson.

The screenplay for the second book, The Subtle Knife, is already being written in the US and buyers of the first film have an option to take the second two films should they be made.

Also different in this case, explained New Line president of worldwide distribution and marketing Rolf Mittweg, is that the awareness of this book trilogy is only very high in the UK. 'In the US, our teaser trailer goes out on May 25 with Pirates 3 and our banner one-sheet will be in theatres all over the country around the time of Harry Potter's release on July 8.

'Every territory has to build from the bottom up,' he said,' and we have to get the boys in to see it as well [the lead character in the film is a young girl played by Richards], who will be attracted by the action.

'The target age range is 12 to 70. It's older than The Chronicles Of Narnia but has a certain edge to it which will be appreciated by adults. It will be a PG-13. It's not a kiddie movie.'