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'ROTK' sets worldwide record


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Box office record for last Lord of the Ringsfilm

By Simon London in San Francisco

Published: December 21 2003 21:49 | Last Updated: December 22 2003 0:08

The final installment of the The Lord of the Rings film trilogy sold $246m worth of tickets worldwide between Wednesday and Sunday, the highest total takings over the first five days of any film.

The strong box office performance of The Return of the King provides a welcome boost for Time Warner, the media conglomerate that owns New Line Cinema, the film's distributor, and raises hopes that it could become only the second film after Titanic to gross more than $1bn during its run.

Time Warner has been overshadowed by record writedowns, management upheaval and stock price turmoil since it merged four years ago with AOL, the internet service provider.

The Return of the King dominated North America box offices this weekend, selling $73.6m worth of tickets between Friday and Sunday, for total takings of $125m since its launch on Wednesday. The film added $121m in 28 other countries to easily surpass the $202m worldwide opeing achieved last month by The Matrix Revolutions, the previous opening-week record holder.

The financial performance of The Return of the King is all the more remarkable because the film has yet to open in a number of countries, including Japan, Italy and Australia.

The first Lord of the Rings installment, The Fellowship of the Ring, released in 2001, achieved North American ticket sales of $94m in its first five days and went on to gross $861m worldwide. The Two Towers, released in 2002, grossed $102m in its first five days in North America and went on to achieve total sales of $921m.

Each of the films, shot on location in New Zealand by director Peter Jackson, is estimated to have cost $100m to produce.

Titanic, released in 1998, launched in fewer countries but went on to achieve worldwide ticket sales of $1.8bn.

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A couple of years ago, one of my friends hosting a "Super Bowl XXII" party, the night before Super Bowl XXXII. Basically, a bunch of us drank beer and watched a tape of Doug Williams schooling the Broncos.

At one point, a girl walked in, and said, "Isn't it dumb to watch something you already know the ending to?" And one guy piped up, "Did you watch Titanic?"

All the props.

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