TORONTO — The Rings are off to a rolling start.

The stage adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” racked up a highly impressive C$7 million ($5.6 million) in sales during the first seven days its box office was open.

Nearly $800,000 came in on the Internet during a 24-hour period when it was open prior to regular sales, with tickets being purchased from as far away as Japan, Germany, Italy, Mexico and Great Britain.

Sales from the U.S. tourist markets also have been “tremendous,” said Mirvish Communications director John Karastamatis.

And with nearly nine months to go until performances begin, everyone involved is convinced this show will permanently wipe out any residual doubt about the city’s viability as a major theater center that was generated by the SARS crisis in 2003.

The $21.4 million epic is being produced in Toronto by Kevin Wallace and directed by Matthew Warchus with a cast of 51. It starts previews in February as part of Mirvish Prods.’ 2006 subscription series.

“It’s a fantastic response and an affirmation of the worldwide interest in this production,” Wallace said of the sales figure. “It’s a strong indication that all the marketing and positioning of this production we’ve done so far has been successful.”