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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 December, 2003, 09:26 GMT
Strong opening for Rings finale
Elijah Wood as Frodo
The film stars Elijah Wood as hobbit Frodo Baggins
The final film in The Lord of the Rings trilogy has raked in $8m (£4.5m) from midnight screenings on its first day of US release, its distributor has said.

Midnight takings for The Return of the King amounted to almost half of the first film's entire US opening day box office receipts two years ago.

Distributor New Line hopes the movie, released on Wednesday, will break the $1bn (£570m) global box office barrier.

Titanic holds the current box office record, taking $1.83bn (£1bn) in 1997.

New Line also said takings from Wednesday's midnight screenings equalled nearly a third of the $26.2m (£15m) first day takings for the second Rings film, The Two Towers.

Executives hope the latest movie's fast start will propel it beyond worldwide totals made by The Fellowship of the Ring ($861m/£493m) and The Two Towers ($921m/£527m).

Ticket sales

"This thing is so gigantic, we really don't know where we're going," said New Line head of domestic distribution David Tuckerman.

After its midnight debut, The Return of the King went on to be shown in more than 3,700 US cinemas during daytime and evening screenings on Wednesday. New Line also reported strong ticket sales for those later showings.

And advance ticket sales in the UK have exceeded £1m, industry publication Screen Daily reported.

The trilogy, directed by Peter Jackson, is adapted from JRR Tolkien's fantasy about the quest to destroy a ring of evil whose power threatens Middle-earth.

The cast includes Elijah Wood, Sir Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Cate Blanchett, Liv Tyler, Sean Astin and Orlando Bloom.


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