The Evening Post
December 24, 2001

Rings Forges Box Office Gold
Staff Reporter

The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring is a global smash hit, already pulling in more than $320 million at cinemas around the world.

The first instalment of Peter Jackson's $650 million trilogy opened at No 1 across the United States and Europe, according to box-office estimates released today.

In the US and Canada, it pulled in $45.3 million ($NZ111.35 million) over the weekend - half the amount of the Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone opening, but still a record for December.

Since opening in North America on Thursday, it has taken in $73.1 million ($NZ178 million). But the Rings film was never expected to approach Potter's phenomenal level of $90 million ($NZ219 million) because its three-hour running time restricts the number of sessions that can be played each day.

In 15 other countries, including New Zealand, the film has hauled in $NZ145 million. It's topped box offices in Britain ($NZ39 million), Germany ($NZ33 million), France ($NZ20 million), Spain ($NZ12 million), and Scandinavia.

In New Zealand, it smashed the opening day record, earning $720,933 at 63 theatres. It's expected to break the $2 million mark when local figures are released today.

Pete Hodgson, the Government's Minister responsible for The Lord Of The Rings, said today it was "wonderful news".

"It means for the company that's funded the movie and for the director, it's easy from now on because the question of whether this will float or sink has now been answered."

Meanwhile, an Internet campaign has started for Jackson to receive New Zealand's highest honour, the Order of New Zealand, awarded to only 20 Kiwis. The website is called "Knight Peter Jackson" because its designer felt it had a better, er, ring to it than "Award Peter Jackson the Order Of New Zealand".

The Government discontinued knighthoods last year.