The Return of the King ruled again at box offices in the U.S. and around the world. With a second 3-day weekend total of an estimated $51.2 million, down a measly 30% from its stellar opening frame, the final installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy ran its total domestic gross to $224 million. The Return of the King took just 11 days to pass the $200 million mark, making it the second fastest film in history to do so, trailing only Spider-Man's amazing 9-day performance. Still the King's lead over last year's The Two Towers has shrunk from 22% after the first five days to just 12% after twelve days. However, given the precipitous drop-offs suffered by most blockbuster releases in 2003, The Return of the King's performance gives every indication that the film will have the staying power of its predecessors.
Globally The Return of the King has earned an astounding $492.1 million after just 12 days, making it already the fourth highest grossing film of 2003. The fact that the grosses for the LOTR films, which have been released in December, are spread out over two years masks some of the series' enormous earning potential. With just 3 days left in 2003, The Return of the King is unlikely to move much beyond the #4 spot for 2003, but it will also earn a healthy chunk of change in 2004, particularly if the film is rewarded at Oscar time, the last chance the Academy will have to celebrate the consistent excellence of the LOTR trilogy.