The Lord OfThe Rings: The Return Of The King opened top in Japan at the weekend on $11.1m from 729 screens, asthe picture grossed $21.7m from 4,128 screens in 60 markets to boost itsinternational running total to $618.4m.

Including lastweekend's previews New Line International's fantasy finale grossed $14.7m inJapan through Nippon Herald. The two-day $11.1m figure was 37% bigger than TheTwo Towers and 70%bigger than The Fellowship Of The Ring.

As of Feb 16 the picture hadgrossed $974.8m in worldwide ticket sales and it is expected to pass $1bn laterthis week or possibly at the weekend.

In its fourthweek in Russia Return Of The King fell 11%, grossing $502,466 from 212 screens for $11m, while inHolland it raised its total to 17.4m in its ninth week.

The Return Of The King's international rampage has seen it overtake thefinal total of The Two Towers in56 of the 60 markets in which it has opened.