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Wednesday, 18 December, 2002, 14:23 GMT
Rings sequel opens around the world
Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson
Peter Jackson made all his films in New Zealand
Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson has been given a hero's welcome in his native country New Zealand as the second film in the trilogy opens worldwide.

Thousands gathered to catch a glimpse of Jackson at the première of the second instalment, The Two Towers, in Wellington, where much of the trilogy was shot.

Characters Sam and Frodo in The Two Towers
The Two Towers is darker than the first film
Stars of the movie, Elijah Woods, Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd, also received loud applause.

Some cinemas in the US opened at midnight on Tuesday to allow fans the chance to see the movie as soon as possible on the day of release.

Cinemas in the UK are advising the public that, even with extra performances of The Two Towers on their programme, many of the screenings ahead of Christmas are sold out.

In the US, cinemas across the country scheduled midnight screenings.

Worldwide Jackson's movie is being shown on more than 10,000 screens - 6,500 of them in the US.

Box office smash

The Two Towers has already featured in the American Film Institute's top 10 of 2002 - seen as a reliable indicator of possible Oscar success.

It is expected to compete strongly with the season's two biggest blockbusters, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and the James Bond adventure Die Another Day.

Actor Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn in The Two Towers
Critics have been positive about the sequel

The film's cast has been busy promoting it at major cities around the world, including London, Paris and New York.

In the UK, the critics have been generally very positive about the film, which is said to be darker in tone than its predecessor, The Fellowship of the Ring.

That film has hauled in $860m (£546m) at box offices worldwide, making it the number five movie of all time in global ticket sales.

Director Jackson and his team of more than 2,400 actors, designers and special effects wizards spent 15 months shooting all three films at once in New Zealand at a final cost of about $300m (£190m).

Advance ticket sales for the film in UK Odeon cinemas have already reached £1.5m, compared to £1.2m for its predecessor.

The trilogy will end next December with The Return of the King.


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