‘Lord’ rings up $73 million in 5-day bow

New Line grabbed the box office brass ring with “Rings” this weekend, as the action fantasy marked a December-record $45.3 million in estimated three-day grosses.

First Friday-Sunday sesh for “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” followed an $18.2 million Wednesday bow and $9.7 million Thursday gross for a five-day cume of $73.1 million — best ever for the period if not a all-time five-day record.

The $90 million-plus production — first of three planned “Rings” book adapations — also launched this week in many foreign territories, where grosses have been similarly at the far high end of expectations.

“We’re very excited,” said Rolf Mittweg, prexy and chief operating officer for worldwide marketing and distribution. “All the evening shows have been sellouts and word-of mouth is amazing.”

Though he declined to project a domestic total for pic, Mittweg said a big opening assures “it will be in theaters for at least a couple of months.” Anticipated kudos should build momentum as well, he added. [More]