They got my $6.50

‘Rings’ Sequel Conjures Record Box Office Opening
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – J.R.R. Tolkien’s diminutive hobbits are box office giants all over again, as the second installment in the “Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy set a record December one-day gross of $26 million in U.S. theaters.
The debut of “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” shattered the previous all-time box office benchmark for a single day in December, set last year by its precursor, “The Fellowship of the Ring,” at $18.2 million, distributor New Line Cinema said on Thursday.
The “Two Towers” tally also marks the second biggest Wednesday movie opening ever behind the $28.5 million first-day gross of “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” in May of 1999.
“This is really the ‘Star Wars,’ of today’s generation,” Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box-office tracking service Exhibitor Relations Inc., said the “Rings” phenomenon.
“Two Towers” grossed an additional $16 million from its debut in Tolkien’s native South Africa and 13 European countries on Wednesday, up 45 percent from last year’s opening-day overseas performance of “Fellowship of the Ring.”
New Line, a unit of AOL Time Warner Inc., said “Two Towers” marked the highest opening day ever in 10 out of 14 foreign countries.
The film stars Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins, the hobbit who leads a quest to destroy the Dark Lord Sauron’s ring of power and save Middle-earth.
“We’re astounded at these numbers,” said Rolf Mittweg, president for worldwide distribution and marketing at New Line. “For a three-hour film that is central in a trilogy to open this way is energizing and tremendously exciting.”
If the success of “Fellowship of the Ring” is any indication, “Two Towers” is on its way to blockbuster status. The first film in the trilogy based on Tolkien’s novels went on to gross $66 million through its first weekend and more than $313 million in the United States alone.
By comparison, superhero adventure “Spider-Man” holds the record for biggest single day ever at the U.S. box office, grossing $43.6 million in its second day of release in May of this year and nearly $115 million through its first three days. It grossed a total of $403.7 million domestically and twice that worldwide.
“Fellowship of the Ring” proved to be more potent internationally, ultimately grossing $860.2 million around the globe.
“Two Towers” was benefiting from glowing reviews and a built-in base of devoted Tolkien readers, as well as a new generation of fans drawn to the epic fantasy by Peter Jackson’s big-screen adaptation. It also was helped by its super-sized roll-out, opening in 3,622 theaters around the country.
“These films have really captured the imagination of moviegoers,” Dergarabedian said. “The first film brilliantly set up the necessity to see the second film, thus ensuring its success.”