'Rings' sequel 37% ahead of 'Fellowship'

The Hobbits are getting closer to Mordor and distrib New Line and its international affils are approaching B.O. nirvana.

This weekend “The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers” racked up an estimated $87.6 million from 26 territories in five days — a towering 37% ahead of last year’s preem for “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.” Total screens in those territories was up 13%, from 4,800 to 5,414.

With many individual territory records due to be confirmed today , Denmark in five days returned an estimated $2.6 million from 115 screens — 53% up on 2001, which saw $1.7 million from 86.

Elsewhere in Scandinavia, Finland’s weekend cume estimate was $931,000 from 58 — 29% up on “Fellowship,” which generated $722,000 from 56. In Norway, “Two Towers” took about $2.3 from 98, 64% up from the previous pic’s $1.4 million from 76. In Sweden, “Two Towers” took about $3.2 million from 151 — 39% up on last year’s $2.3 from 123.

$21 mil in Blighty

In Blighty, “Two Towers” registered an almighty ka-ching, approximately $21 million from 1170 screens — 31% up on the $16 million from 1,092 drawn by “Fellowship.”

Elsewhere in Europe, Germany generated about $17 million from 1,200, 13% up on $15 million from 1,070 in 2001. In neighboring Austria, pic ratcheted up about $2.3 million from 125 screens — 35% over the 2001 result of $1.7 million from 149.

In France, “Two Towers” returns loomed near $9.7 million from 973 — 14% up on “Fellowship,” which drew $8.2 million from 860. In Spain, pic returned about $7 million from 471, 32% up on last year’s $5.3 million from 395.

Big gain in Singapore

Singapore registered an impressive 43% gain though print numbers were held static on last year’s 57. Pic registered a four-day weekend of about $1 million, “Fellowship” $700,000. In Mexico, screens were also held stable, at 491, but the B.O. increase was less spectacular — up $300,000 from $2.7 million to about $3 million over three days.

In Malaysia, “Towers” swung $288,000 from 43 screens in three days; “Fellowship” rung up $240,000 over the same period last year. Malaysia’s four-day cume this weekend was about $390,000.

Finally, in New Zealand, where the trilogy was made, returns of about $2.3 million from 103 screens bested last year’s record there of $2.1 million from 92.

In other news, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” has notched $396 million in international territories, with this weekend’s receipts due to be about $30 million. In the widest release ever in Hong Kong, the boy wizard trampled the heavy competish, including two local blockbusters.

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