"The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" was already putting up good numbers at the U.S. box office before the first midnight showing at U.S. theaters just after midnight Tuesday night.
Advance online ticket sales indicated that the movie will be a substantial commercial hit. Some analysts said advance sales were among the largest of the holiday movie season -- perhaps second only to advance sales for "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," although not necessarily a close second.
The first installment of writer-director Peter Jackson's screen adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's "Rings" trilogy arrived in theaters with a vast, potential fan base of people who loved the books. Besides that, critics are giving the picture good notices generally, and many reviews have been positively glowing.
The movie -- unlike "Harry Potter" -- has been showing up on year-end awards lists, and is a finalist for the American Film Institute's first-ever AFI Award for best picture.
"Rings" isn't showing on quite as many theater screens as the estimated 8,000 screens that showed "Harry Potter" on its opening weekend, but it's plenty available -- with plans calling for it to open on more than 10,000 screens worldwide on Wednesday, something like 5,700 of them in the United States alone.
On Friday, "Rings" will find out whether it has any serious competition from this week's other new releases.
Tim Allen opens as the typical "little guy" in "Joe Somebody." Kids are expected to make up the bulk of the audience for the big screen version of the animated Nickelodeon series, "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius." Urban audiences will provide most of the business for the hip-hop comedy, "How High." And Jim Carrey fans will see how he does in his most dramatic role since "The Truman Show," when he opens in "The Majestic."
PALTROW STILL FEELING EFFECTS OF 9-11
Gwyneth Paltrow, who has been on the promotional trail first for "Shallow Hal" and now for "The Royal Tenenbaums," says it doesn't feel right going out there to plug a movie, following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
In fact, she told USA Weekend it "feels idiotic, frankly."
Paltrow, who won the best-actress Oscar in 1998 for "Shakespeare in Love," said Americans who feel violated and vulnerable in the wake of Sept. 11 sort of know the way she felt after a 51-year-old pizza delivery man was caught stalking her.
"It's a feeling like you never know what's around the corner," she said. "You don't know if your child will inhale anthrax or if there's a small nuclear device."
While America and its allies continue to hunt down terrorists who had anything to do with the September attacks, the man who stalked Paltrow has been caught and institutionalized.
EASTWOOD, NICHOLSON TO THE RESCUE FOR CALIFORNIA TOURISM
Clint Eastwood playing at the world-famous Pebble Beach golf resort and Jack Nicholson at his familiar post, courtside at a Los Angeles Lakers game, are the dominant images in a new TV ad campaign whipped up by California officials to help the state's ailing tourism industry.
Like tourism elsewhere, the industry in the Golden State has been taking a beating since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. By some estimates, tourism in California is off anywhere from 50 percent to 70 percent since the attacks.
The new ad campaign -- called "We're Californians" -- was scheduled to begin Wednesday.
In his 30-second spot, Nicholson -- flashing his trademark killer smile -- echoes one of the better-known lines from his 1983 movie, "The Shining," telling viewers: "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."
PRESERVING THE CLASSICS
The Library of Congress has added 25 movies to the National Film Registry, including box-office hits like "Jaws," "The Sound of Music", "Planet of the Apes" (the 1968 original) and "National Lampoon's Animal House."
Being placed on the registry ensures that the movies will be perpetually preserved. The registry was formed in response to concern about the disintegration or deterioration of more than half of all films made before 1950.
This year's list also includes "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein," "All the King's Men," "Manhattan" and the sci-fi classic, "The Thing from Another Planet."
Also on the list, "All That Jazz," "The Thin Blue Line," "Stormy Weather" and the U.S. government-produced civil defense film, "House in the Middle."
The registry now includes 325 titles.
BARRYMORE SPEAKS OF BREAKUP WITH GREEN
"I love Tom very much. He has always been a great friend, and that won't change," said Barrymore.
Green filed for divorce Monday in Los Angeles, citing irreconcilable differences, but issued a statement saying he still loves the star of "Charlie's Angels," "Riding in Cars with Boys" and "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial."
"Drew is a wonderful woman," said Green. "I love her very much. I wish our marriage could have worked out. I wish her much happiness."
Gossip columnist Mitchell Fink reports that Barrymore was still wearing her wedding ring Monday night at a benefit in East Rutherford, N.J., for victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks -- and that as recently as last week, she was telling interviews her personal life is going great.
Fink asked Barrymore's new publicist, Jennifer Allen if there's any chance the breakup is one of Green's well-known put-ons.
"I've only worked with Drew for the past six weeks," said Allen, "but I don't think the breakup is a hoax."
'JACKASS' -- THE MOVIE
From those wonderful folks who brought you "Jackass" on MTV, now comes word that there's going to be a "Jackass" movie and at least three primetime TV specials in 2002.
According to a report in Daily Variety, MTV is working with "Jackass" star Johnny Knoxville and co-creator Jeff Tremaine, with plans calling for production to begin in January on the feature film version of the controversial anything-for-a-laugh TV show.
The TV show went out of production earlier this year after turning out 30 episodes. It still runs on Sunday nights on MTV.
Officials at the music channel said the decision to stop making the show was based on fatigue with the weekly grind of producing it -- and had nothing to do with controversy over young fans hurting themselves while trying to replicate the idiotic stunts that Knoxville and company did on TV.
Washington politicians criticized the show publicly after a Connecticut teenager was hospitalized with severe burns while mimicking a scene in which Knoxville set himself on fire while wearing a flame-retardant suit.
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