Advance tickets for the first The Lord of the Rings film have reportedly been selling like hot cakes in several countries – more than a month before it goes on worldwide release.
Denmark, Sweden and Norway have received 200,000 advance ticket orders for The Fellowship of the Rings, according to trade newspaper Variety.
In some places, queues formed around the block ahead of tickets going on sale. Business over the internet is also reported to have been brisk.
The film goes on general release on 19 December and some analysts predict that it will outsell the current fantasy blockbuster Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
In Sweden, some Lord of the Rings fans waited up to five days in sub-zero temperatures before tickets went on sale on Monday.
Rasmus Ramstead, president and chief executive of the film’s Swedish distributor, Svensk Films, said the interest was unprecedented.
“We had people going out with hot coffee and hamburgers for people standing in line,” he told Variety.
“Star Wars: The Phantom Menace was the last time people queued up outside theatres, but it’s never been anything like this.”
Tickets were also available from cinemas over the internet but the system crashed when it was overwhelmed by requests.
In Denmark, tickets went on sale on 18 October and since 5 November in Norway.
But in the UK, sale figures have not been released since the tickets became available on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, in New Zealand The Lord of the Rings film trilogy has created enormous local interest.
The film’s New Zealand director Peter Jackson used the scenery of his home country as a backdrop for all three films, which were shot together.
As a result, the New Zealand government is spending £1.27m to promote the country as Middle Earth – the world in which the story of The Lord of the Rings takes place.
The Harry Potter film, which opened in the UK and US on 16 November, does not open in New Zealand until 29 November.
But cinema chains in New Zealand predict The Fellowship of the Ring will outsell Harry Potter by 2-to-1.
The Fellowship of the Rings is an adaptation of the first book from the Lord of the Rings trilogy by fantasy novelist JRR Tolkien.
Lord of the Rings tells the story of how the hobbit Frodo seeks to protect a magic and much sought-after ring.
Editing has already begun on The Two Towers, the second film, due to come out in December 2002.
The third film, The Return of the King, is set to come out a year later.