Lord Of The Rings grossed a powerful $6.8m (Y900m) over its opening two-day weekend in Japan, recording 620,000 admissions from 600 screens. While impressive in itself, the film's debut weekend was nowhere near the level of business that Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone generated, which grossed a record $12.8m (Y1.57 billion) and 1.38 million admissions at 340 screens on its first two days last November.

A spokesman for distributor Nippon Herald that Lord Of The Rings "well on its way" making its target of Y15 billion ($113m). "We're getting a wide audience range, from junior high and high school students to young couples and even older fans, with a lot of repeaters," the spokesman added. The film is being handled by both Herald and Shochiku.

In addition to character goods on sale in the lobby, fans were snapping up advance tickets to the second installment of the trilogy, The Two Towers, when they went on sale on March 2.

Also performing strongly over the weekend was Monsters Inc., which recorded $4.44m (Y590m) from 535 screens nationwide on its first two days after opening on March 2, the highest figure ever for a non-Japanese animated feature.

The Pixar film, however, has a long way to go to beat the all-time Japanese box office record set by Spirited Away, the Hayao Miyazaki animated blockbuster, which is closing in on the Y30 billion ($226m) and 23 million admissions mark.