The Evening Post
December 30, 2001

Success Turns Embassy Into Shrine
Staff Reporter

Interest in the first installment of Jackson's $650 million The Lord Of The Rings trilogy has been phenomenal, with people regarding the Embassy as the place in Wellington to watch the film.

The 800-seat cinema, with its huge screen and digital sound system, hosted the New Zealand-Australian premiere of The Fellowship Of The Ring on December 19.

Jackson has promised to screen a world premiere there for either the second or third movie.

The Embassy screens four sessions daily and five on a Friday and Saturday.

While most of these are booked out, people are still forming queues - sometimes 150 people in length - just to get a seat.

And there appears to be no sign that interest is waning.

Embassy operator Kerry Robins said yesterday he'd seen nothing like it before and it was a record for the cinema.

"It's a privilege to be part of it. I was talking to one film distributor who said they thought it would be New Zealand's biggest film of all time," he said.

"It has the feeling of Titanic, which opened big and kept on growing."

The New Zealand box office record is held by Titanic, which pulled in $12 million. Rings has taken in about $3 million in a week and $500 million worldwide.

And it's been profitable for the Embassy.

With four booked out sessions a day, the theatre may be pulling in box-office takings of $30,000 daily - or more than $200,000 in the week since the Rings opened.

Mr Robins said initially some of the takings went back to the cinema's owners, The Embassy Theatre Trust, for the building's refurbishment.

But he said most of the money went back to him as he was running a business. "All my Christmases have come at once."

Mr Robins said the film was likely to screen at the cinema for months.

"So long as people keep on coming, we will keep on screening it."