This week marks the 20th anniversary of the 2001 Cannes Film Festival. What does that have to do with The Lord of the Rings? That's the first place any completed footage from the movies were shown publicly outside of an Internet first look in 2000 (embedded below). New Line cut together a 26-minute reel from The Fellowship of the Ring that also included very early footage from The Two Towers and Return of the King (including Frodo at the Cracks of Doom) and showed that at Cannes. People were blown away. New Line took the footage on tour later that year and I got to see it that October, two months before FOTR hit theaters in December.
The first public look at the movie was posted online in early 2000. YouTube didn't exist there, so New Line hosted a downloadable .exe on the official LOTR site and you downloaded to view this in postage-sized Quicktime:
The first teaser trailer was released in theaters with New Line's Cuban Missile Crisis movie 13 Days in early 2001:
I saw the movie in theaters 12 times that year and into 2002. I saw it eight times during it's regular run, and then around February/March 2002 they added a four-minute preview of The Two Towers to prints in theaters. This played right after the final shot faded out and before the end credits:
The movie was released on DVD a couple months after that preview played in theaters, and it actually hit DVD in Canada more than a month before the US release. Yes, I imported it.
The Extended Edition would arrive in November of 2002 right before the release of Two Towers in theaters. It restored the full Gifting scene in Lorien that was missed from the theatrical cut.