12/21/2001 AT 12:53 PM EST
The makers of the big-budgeted fantasy tale "Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring" can breathe easy. On its opening day, reports the Associated Press, the hobbit flick not only scored four Golden Globe nominations (with an Oscar nod possibly in its future), but also brought in $18.2 million, the highest single-day take ever for December. "The Fellowship of the Ring" is the first of three "Ring" films based on the books by J.R.R. Tolkien, which together cost New Line Cinema about $280 million to make. The studio took the unprecedented step of filming all three simultaneously, gambling that the first one would be a big enough hit to justify two sequels. Director Peter Jackson, who was in New Zealand working on film No. 2 ("The Two Towers"), talked to AP about his sense of relief in a telephone interview Thursday. "There's always been obviously this huge risk, something we've had to carry on our shoulders a long time," Jackson said. "I can feel that weight lifting. That leaves me able to just totally concentrate on making the next two films. The job is to make the next film better than the first and the third one the best of them all." So far, critics have backed him up with high praise, and Jackson on Thursday received a Golden Globe nomination for best director. The film also got a Globe nod for best dramatic film, best score and best original song. The impressive turn-out for a Wednesday bodes well for the three-day holiday weekend, when kids will be out in full movie-watching force.