King Makes $8 million Midnight Return

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is well on its way to box office domination, having raked in an estimated $8 million during Wednesday’s midnight shows alone, according to Box Office Mojo. New Line is hoping the epic fantasy will sail into Titanic waters with a global cume of more than $1 billion by the time the dust settles. Some pundits are even hedging their bets on the film making as much as $2 billion.

The series has been steadily building up steam since Fellowship of the Ring debuted in 2001 to a whopping $313 million domestically. Several DVD versions of the first two entries have also been helping to build a ravenous fanbase, making Return of the King the most anticipated film of the year. Genre fans disappointed with the much-hyped Matrix sequels are also expected to be out in force, hoping to see a trilogy resolved successfully.

When Wednesday actuals are posted, Return of the King is expected to break the $28.5 million first day record set by Star Wars: Episode I–The Phantom Menace. The pic’s weekend take is also predicted to outdo the $62 million earned by The Two Towers its first weekend out.