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King for a Day at $57.6M

THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING came out swinging like Gollum for that box office brass ring on Wednesday, Dec. 17, taking in a glorious $57.6M in theaters around the globe, according to New Line, including a record-breaking domestic gross of $34.1M and $23.5M in 19 territories overseas.

RETURN OF THE KING shattered the previous Wednesday domestic record of $28.5M held by STAR WARS: EPISODE I - THE PHANTOM MENACE. The gross also marks the best single day in December, the third best opening day ever (behind SPIDER-MAN and THE MATRIX RELOADED) and the sixth best single day of all time (SPIDER-MAN and RELOADED on multiple days and HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS).

Plus in breaking 13 records overseas (including the U.K., Germany, Spain and Scandinavia), the mega blockbuster now sets its sights to become only the second film behind TITANIC to hit the $1B global plateau. RETURN OF THE KING opened in 7,205 screens at 3,703 theaters, the second-widest release ever after X2's 3,741.

In addition, the $8M from midnight screenings at 2,100 theaters broke the previous record of $5M set by THE MATRIX RELOADED. This capped off "Trilogy Tuesday" festivities in which fans got to feast on the extended versions of the first two RINGS movies for the first time in theaters. Box office numbers courtesy of Box Office Mojo (