Brandon Gray

The Lord of the Rings drew in an estimated $14.3 million on Friday, up 47% over Thursday and raising its 3-day total to $42.2 million.

By comparison, Harry Potter did $90.3 million in its opening three-day weekend, however it bowed in a November, a month more conducive to huge starts than December. Rings has New Year’s weekend to look forward to, so it should have longer legs than the boy wizard.

For the five-day Christmas weekend (Friday-Tuesday), Rings is on track to land in the vicinity of $65 million, handily shattering all December weekend records and raising its one-week total to over $90 million. With students off from school and many adults on vacation thanks to the holidays, brisk business will be seen on the weekdays and on through New Year’s weekend, which could help Rings pull in around $150 million by the end of the year.

Stay tuned on Sunday for the studio weekend estimates, the Saturday estimate, and the latest international numbers. More]