"The Hobbit" debuted to a record $643,000 in Peter Jackson's home New Zealand Wednesday as Warner Bros. prepared to open the film in 4,045 theaters in the U.S. on Friday.
That's a lot of theaters, but less than a handful of this year's biggest U.S. releases, including "Dark Knight Rises," the Batman movie that Warner Bros. gave the widest rollout with 4,404 locations in July.
About 3,150 theaters will be screening "The Hobbit" in 3D, and roughly 3,100 will offer midnight shows Thursday night.
Warner Bros. also confirmed its plans for its overseas openings this weekend. "The Hobbit" will be on more than 17,000 screens as it debuts in 55 markets.
Wednesday's premiere in New Zealand, where much of the film was shot, is that country's biggest non-holiday opening ever, according to Warner Bros.
Even with this weekend's massive foreign rollout, there will be 10 other markets left including Australia, Russia and China.
There has been much attention focused on the ground-breaking and controversial 48 frame-per-second film technology that Jackson utilized for his latest Middle Earth epic. But only about 450 theaters in the U.S. will offer the 48 frame-per-second version.
There's no surcharge for the high-speed version per se, but since it's only available in 3D and Imax versions, those seeing it in the new format will already be paying a premium.
Martin Freeman stars as Bilbo Baggins in "The Hobbit," with co-stars Ian McKellan, Cate Blanchet and Andy Serkis returning from the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.
- Arts & Entertainment