New Zealanders have flocked in record numbers to see the first film of the The Hobbit trilogy.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey grossed $782,695 after opening at midnight, setting a record for the biggest non-holiday Wednesday opening.
Distributor Roadshow said it compared well with the $720,933 gross for first of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring, and the $757,887 gross for the second of the rings trilogy, The Two Towers.
"We are thrilled that the film has already resonated so positively with so many New Zealanders," Roadshow managing director Joel Pearlman said.
Sir Peter Jackson's film was released on 203 screens in 98 different locations, the biggest release on record in New Zealand.
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It also opened in France on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Hollywood Reporter says The Hobbit is heading for a $US70 million-plus ($NZ82.93 million) opening in North America on Friday, putting it on par with the final title in the Lord of the Rings franchise.
In the same weekend in 2003, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King opened to $US72.6 million in North America, the third-best December opening after I Am Legend ($US77.2 million) and Avatar ($US77 million).
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring debuted to $US47.2 million in the US in 2002, while The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers took in $US62 million a year earlier.
On Tuesday, online ticketing service Fandango said Hobbit was accounting for 76 per cent of all advance ticket sales (Les Miserables, which opens Christmas Day accounted for 10 per cent), the Hollywood Reporter said.
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