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King of the Box Office World: $250M in 5 Days

THE LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING continued its record-breaking assault on the box office, grabbing $72.6M domestically over the weekend ended Dec. 21, 2003, and $125.1M for its first five days. Overseas, the final RINGS movie took in $125M in 28 territories, breaking all-time opening records in the U.K., Austria, Germany, Scandinavia, Spain, Switzerland and New Zealand. That's more than $250M on more than 14,000 screens worldwide (7,205 domestically), shattering the previous five-day record of THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS ($202.8M) and eclipsing THE TWO TOWERS ($201.8M). Domestically, the five-day opener puts RETURN OF THE KING in third place behind THE MATRIX RELOADED ($144.4M) and SPIDER-MAN ($135.8M). Still, it ranks as the best December weekend opening ever, beating THE TWO TOWERS ($62M). Overall, it stands as the seventh best opening ever, and the third best of the year, behind MATRIX RELOADED ($91.8M) and X2 ($85.6M). It appears to be a triumph in every way for New Line, director Peter Jackson and his crew and Weta Digital, which did most of the vfx and improved upon its previous work.

THE LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING continued its record-breaking assault on the box office, grabbing $72.6M domestically over the weekend ended Dec. 21, 2003, and $124.1M for its first five days. Overseas, it's estimated that the final RINGS movie took in $121M in 28 territories. That's more than $245M on more than 14,000 screens worldwide (7,205 domestically), shattering the previous five-day record of THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS ($202.8M) and eclipsing THE TWO TOWERS ($201.8M). Domestically, the five-day opener puts RETURN OF THE KING in third place behind THE MATRIX RELOADED ($144.4M) and SPIDER-MAN ($135.8M). Still, it ranks as the best December weekend opening ever, beating THE TWO TOWERS ($62M). Overall, it stands as the seventh best opening ever, and the third best of the year, behind MATRIX RELOADED ($91.8M) and X2 ($85.6M). It appears to be a triumph in every way for New Line, director Peter Jackson and his crew and Weta Digital, which did most of the vfx and improved upon its previous work.

As for the rest of the weekend box office, Sony's MONA LISA SMILE period drama starring Julia Roberts barely beat out SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE, also from Sony, for second place. MONA LISA SMILE debuted with $11.5M while SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE turned in $11.4M in its second outing, totaling $33.4M. Warner Bros.' THE LAST SAMURAI (with vfx from Flash Film Works, Rising Sun and Matte World) slipped to fourth with $7.7M, giving the Tom Cruise actioner $59.4M. New Line's ELF (with vfx by Rhythm & Hues, Chiodo Bros. Prods. and Amalgamated Pixels) held strong in the fifth spot as the surprise of the holiday season with $5.5M and a cume of $154.8M. Fox's STUCK ON YOU dropped to sixth with $5.2M and $16.9M to date. Dimension's BAD SANTA held seventh place with $5.1M, good enough for $42.9M. Disney's HAUNTED MANSION (with vfx from Sony Pictures Imageworks) dipped to eighth with $3.9M for a disappointing total so far of $58.8. Warner Bros.' LOVE DON'T COST A THING came in ninth with $3.7M and a two-week cume of $11.1M. And Universal's HONEY held the 10th spot with $2.7M and a three-week total of $23.5M.

Sony Pictures Classics' critically acclaimed THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE took in $65, 648 increasing its theaters to 15 from six, for a total of $391,719 to date. Box office information obtained from boxofficemojo.com.

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