V Green came up with a few ideas on how Fellowship of the Ring might well have been the highest grossing opening film in UK history, not Harry Potter:

Yesterday, you posted this story on TORn –
“Latest figures show that Lord Of The Rings took £11m ($16m) in its first weekend in the UK – the second biggest opening weekend in UK cinema history and beating The Phantom Menace, Toy Story 2 and Independence Day. The all-time No 1, though, belongs to Harry Potter.”

However, a small note in the current UK edition (Feb 2002) of Empire mag. caught my attention and will probably be of interest to you:

“And so, young Harry swept away box office records galore (even if its £16 million opening did include £6 million from the previous weekend’s previews).” [Feb 2002, pg 111]

As you can see from this, when you compare Potter’s £16 million with Rings’ £11 million, you are actually not comparing like with like. Potter had two extra days to earn its sixteen million. If you ignore the preview takings, then it would seem that Rings actually took more than Potter in its opening weekend! Of course, this depends on whether or not Rings’ ‘opening weekend’ includes Wednesday and Thrusday takings.

(I’m going to see if I can get concrete information on this..stay tuned! – Str)