Return is King of Wednesday

By John Hamann

December 18, 2003

I envision a pile of hundred dollar bills right there.

Like a catapulted boulder, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King did what seemed to be the impossible at the box office on Tuesday and Wednesday, as it eclipsed records set by Star Wars: The Phantom Menace for a film opening on a Wednesday.

Return of the King blew away expectations on Tuesday night, as the film grossed $8.1 million from midnight screenings. With that cash in the bank before Wednesday morning, the film cruised to an awesome Wednesday total, breaking the Wednesday opening record with a gross of $34.1 million. That number knocks off the now runner-up Wednesday bow of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, which served up $28.5 million on its first Wednesday along with its midnight previews. For overall single days, Return of the King ranks sixth, behind Spiderman's first Friday ($39.4 million) and Saturday ($43.6 million), the first Thursday and Saturday take from The Matrix Reloaded ($42.5 million and $34.4 million), and the first Saturday of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets ($34.2 million).

For those of you wondering how this performance stacks up against last year's Two Towers, here is a link to last year's opening day analysis. Since both movies had midnight screenings factored into their Wednesday receipts, Return of the King has managed to outperform the previous installment by a fairly significant amount.

Made for $94 million, Return of the King is already better than a third of the way to recouping the production cost domestically. It's dangerous to predict a five-day total for ROTK after only one day of release, but if it follows the trajectory of The Two Towers, it would carry an opening day multiplier of 3.9 and give the film $133 million after its first five days.

Check back to BOP this weekend, as we continue to track the awesome success of the final chapter of the most successful movie trilogy in history.