New Line Cinema has reported an estimated opening day gross of $18.2M for its fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings which bowed on Wednesday, December 19th, after months of hype. Playing in 3,359 theaters with over 5,700 total screens, the Peter Jackson-directed adventure generated the third-largest Wednesday opening in history after 1999’s Star Wars Episode I ($28.5M from 2,970 theaters) and last summer’s Jurassic Park 3 ($19M from 3,434). The Jedi prequel brought with it a mammoth following of die-hard fans while the third dinosaur installment debuted in the summer when kids were out of school and was about half the three-hour length of LOTR allowing for substantially more showtimes. Pearl Harbor, another heavily-publicized three-hour epic from this year, had opening-day sales of $18.7M on its Friday launch.
No more $15/month plan for LOTRO later this year.