‘Rings’ ripe for ride

Advance tix sales big; U.K. rates pic for all

If the earliest advance sales of New Line Cinema’s “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” are any indication, it could give corporate counterpart Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Harry Potter” pic a runs for its money.

Denmark, Sweden and Norway have received 200,000 advance ticket orders for “Fellowship” — a number that accounts for a little more than 1% of the countries’ total population.

Swedish “Fellowship” tickets went on sale only yesterday — much to the relief of the fans who had been waiting in line for as long as five days in temperatures that dipped below the freezing point.

Unusual interest

“We had people going out with hot coffee and hamburgers for people standing in line,” said Rasmus Ramstead, president and CEO of the pic’s Swedish distributor, Svensk Films. ” ‘Star Wars: The Phantom Menace’ was the last time people queued up outside theaters, but it’s never been anything like this.”

Tickets were also available via the Internet, but the system went down when it was overwhelmed by online requests.

Denmark has been selling tickets since Oct. 18; Norway’s tickets went on sale Nov. 5.

Tickets also went on sale today in the U.K., where “Fellowship” received a PG certificate, boosting its local box office prospects. Pic was initially expected to get a 12 rating, preventing kids under that age from seeing it.

Calling all kids

The advisory parental guidance rating throws it open to the entire kid audience, significantly improving its chance of rivaling the record-breaking figures being posted by “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (as the film is titled in Blighty), which is also rated PG.

The British Board of Film Classification saw “Fellowship,” which is being released in the U.K. by Entertainment Film Distributors, last week. The PG comes with an advisory note that the pic features “battle violence and fantasy horror” and “may not be suitable for under 8s.”

The running time was also confirmed at 2 hours and 58 minutes, some 15 minutes longer than exhibs expected.

Pic enters release worldwide Dec. 19, outside of Japan and Italy.

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