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Last Action Hero' to be first ad from space

LOS ANGELES -- Columbia Pictures said Tuesday it has been chosen to be the first advertiser in space, with ads for its fantasy film 'Last Action Hero' slated for a privately funded May launch.

The ads for the movie, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, will be placed on the main fuselage of the Conestoga rocket, its booster rockets and on the payload, which will orbit the Earth for two years conducting microgravity experiments.

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Columbia, a unit of Sony Corp., won out among numerous other bidders for the right to place signage on the rocket in a promotion that was developed by Space Marketing Inc., an organization set up to help fund the costs of the mission.

'After reviewing many possible promotional partners for this historic event, Columbia Pictures was chosen for their ingenious creativity that represents the same goals as the American space program, ' said Mike Lawson, president of Space Marketing.

Columbia plans to release 'Last Action Hero' on June 18 as one of the key movies in the summer blockbuster season. Schwarzenegger plays a movie hero who has to deal with an 11-year-old boy being blasted out of his theater seat and into the movie, while the film's villains escape to the real world.

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'Thematically, we think the ad is highly appropriate, in that both the space vehicle and the main characters in the movie are transported from one world to another,' said Sid Ganis, executive vice president of the studio and its president of marketing and distribution. 'We're also obviously excited about breaking new ground in the advertising world.'

The May launch is the first of three Commercial Experiment Transporter (COMET) missions, which have been planned by NASA to provide businesses with more access to space. The first mission will include 11 experiments ranging from growing plants and crystals to studying the effects of exposing materials to a space environment.

Space Marketing has also set up a 900-number program for messages to be sent into space on the rocket for $3.50 each. The program will also includea contest in which two winners will push the button launching the rocket from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Columbia said Schwarzenegger is scheduled to join the winners at the launch.

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