New Line blockbuster The Lord of The Rings has smashed the all-time Italian box office opening record briefly held by Harry Potter, by grossing a massive $5m (Euros 5,841,147) from 503 screens on its first weekend.

Six days after its Jan 18 release, the Peter Jackson picture had grossed $7.1m (Euros 8,208,000) from 517 screens. Admissions have so far totaled 1,383,124, spelling another huge success for leading Italian distributor Medusa.

The local outfit headed by Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's daughter Marina had a landmark year in 2001 with three of the year's biggest pictures - The Last Kiss $11.3m (Euros 13,106,950), What Women Want $10m (Euros 11,635,24) and Ask Me if I'm Happy $9.2m (Euros 10,671,527).