Fellowship of the Rings had a $45 million weekend, bringing its five day gross to $73.1 million, the best-ever for December.  LOTR fell far below the Harry Potter all-time record of over $92 million in its first weekend, but also showed on about 30% fewer screens and had a longer runtime.  Variety reported that non-U.S. grosses for LOTR were also at the 'far high end of expectations.'  With LOTR products starting to hit the Top 10 Cool products in November (see 'Top 10 Cool'), and this strong first weekend fueling interest, there may indeed be a new merchandising franchise for the next few years (see 'This Generation's Star Wars?').