The Dominion
December 21, 2001

Rings Good News Gets Better
Alan Samson

Director Peter Jackson's movie The Fellowship of the Rings has scored four Golden Globe nominations and smashed box office records.

Jackson was telephoned at 2am yesterday to be told the news: The first movie in The Lord of the Rings trilogy had been nominated for best dramatic picture, Jackson had been nominated for best director, and the movie was also up for best score and original song.

The news of the nominations, a precursor to the Oscars, was matched by the other big news - the film had achieved massive first-day takes, in New Zealand and overseas.

The New Zealand box office figure of $720,933 shattered the record opening day tally of $516,333 made by Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

Biggest returns were in Jackson's home town: theatres in Wellington's central business area took $91,000, easily eclipsing Auckland's Queen St theatres, which took just over $61,000. Christchurch theatres brought in $50,000.

Overseas the news was even better. The Fellowship grossed NZ$44 million on Wednesday on 5700 screens at 3359 theatres in the United States and Canada.

US financiers New Line Cinema reported that the film had taken an extra $28 million in 13 other countries where it opened the same day.

Though not breaking overall US domestic box office records, the film did have the highest single-day take for a movie in December. Last month, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone broke single-day box office records, grossing more than NZ$70 million. But the comparison is an unfair one because the Rings' three-hour running time limited the number of screenings able to be fitted in each day. It also opened on 2300 fewer screens than Harry Potter.

"It's good. It's looking good," Jackson said yesterday. "It exceeded what New Line wanted." Jackson said they were looking for NZ$24 million and the film got NZ$44 million "so they were very, very happy".

"A lot of the weight of the risk is starting to lift. Yeah, I'm quite tired, it's been very tiring, all the travelling. It makes the last six years start to feel all worthwhile."

The sales had been critical, Jackson said. But ultimately the most important thing was that people were enjoying the film.

Earlier, Jackson put even more icing on the cake when he said that Wellington would definitely be home to a world premiere of one of the two movies to come.