Earn $59,000 as Rings researcher - It is a $59,000-a-year job many fans of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings will want - but they have to base themselves in Aberystwyth, Wales.

RING FEVER: The Lord of the Rings imagery is know worldwide. Now a professor in Wales plans to measure the world's reaction in a project costing at least $110,000.RING FEVER: The Lord of the Rings imagery is know worldwide. Now a professor in Wales plans to measure the world's reaction in a project costing at least $110,000.

The University of Wales is seeking a research assistant for an international study on media coverage and audience reaction to the third Lord of the Rings film The Return of the King.

Project director Martin Barker said there had been more than 200 inquiries from around the world about the job, which starts in October, two months before Jackson's film is released.

"I keep getting calls from people saying, 'Look, I can't come and do your research, but is there a way I can do any in Singapore?'."

The project will involve academics in 20 countries, including New Zealand, Spain, Slovenia, India, Russia, the United States and China, and about 10,000 audience questionnaires. "It will make it the biggest piece of international collaborative media research there has ever been."

The project is Professor Barker's idea and will cost at least $110,000, most funded by Britain's Economic and Social Research Council. "I was watching The Lord of the Rings part two for the second time and getting ready to do some teaching about it and I was thinking, `What are the interesting issues here? How do audiences use and make sense of the films that they enjoy?"'

"It suddenly struck me - there's been a bit of work done on how they marketed The Lord of the Rings part 1 and how audiences responded to that. There's a lot of evidence that a lot of people did it by measuring it against the book. But when I was looking at part 2 and looking at the press and magazine coverage around that in Britain, that wasn't true at all.

"Something changed dramatically with part 2 and people were accessing something they kept calling `the epicness' of it."

A questionnaire on what audiences think of The Return of the King will be distributed to some cinemas and interest groups and will be on a website.

"The key to the questionnaire is allowing people to tell us which (fantasy) category they want it to be put into . . . their choices, perceptions and pleasures - then work out how that varies country to country --The Dominion Post

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