On Sunday, all nine zeroes on the Frodometer rolled over. That's the day ''The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King'' became only the second movie ever to surpass $1 billion in worldwide box office receipts. According to distributor New Line, the film crossed the threshold on Feb. 22, in the film's 10th week in release, surpassing the mark set by ''Titanic,'' which took more than 11 weeks to crack the $1 billion ceiling.
Six years ago, ''Titanic'' grossed $1.8 billion worldwide, $601 million from North American ticket sales alone. ''Return of the King'' has grossed $361 million domestically, making it the sixth highest-grossing movie in U.S. history. (It may not have enough momentum left to surpass the No. 5 film, ''Spider-Man,'' which grossed $404 million in North America.) To date, the whole trilogy has grossed some $2.85 billion worldwide. ''Even dreaming of this kind of success is something you just don't do during production. It would jinx it!'' said director Peter Jackson, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter this week. ''We were all hoping New Line would get its money back, and we worked very hard to try and achieve that.''