Dendy Cinemas Canberra event manager Sean O'Sullivan anticipates full houses when <i>The Hobbit</i> opens.

Dendy Cinemas Canberra event manager Sean O'Sullivan anticipates full houses when The Hobbit opens. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

It has been some time since cinemas last experienced the Peter Jackson Boxing Day effect.

Eight years have passed since The Return of the King was a hit with Boxing Day crowds, so when Jackson's long-awaited The Hobbit opens on Wednesday, Canberra's theatres will be ready.

"It will be packed but we've got extra staff on to be prepared for it," the duty manager at Hoyts Belconnen, Lauren Donohoe, said.

"We're actually opening at 8.45, a lot earlier than usual because we're expecting a massive crowd."

At Hoyts Belconnen, nearly all of the six 3-D sessions and two 2-D sessions are close to selling out.

At Dendy Cinemas in Civic, tickets to premium lounge sessions are sold out and the best you will manage for any of the eight 3-D or 2-D sessions is a spot in the front row.

"I think it's just Peter Jackson," Dendy events manager Sean O'Sullivan said. "He's made a name for himself as this big, epic storyteller.

"Even if you don't love the Lord of the Rings book, it's still an epic adventure that everyone can get behind."

Mr O'Sullivan said audiences were spoilt for choice this year, with Tom Hooper's Les Miserables also opening on Wednesday.

While the ticket sales for the adaptation of the stage musical haven't quite kept pace with The Hobbit, evening sessions in the Premium Lounge are sold out until January 3.

Animated children's film Wreck-It Ralph was also expected to be a big drawcard for families.

"I definitely don't think we've had such big Boxing Day releases for about two years," Mr O'Sullivan said.

"I think the last big one was Sherlock Holmes a couple of years ago, so to have two this year, we're really spoilt."

On its opening weekend in the United States, The Hobbit broke the December record, taking in $US84.8 million ($81.8 million).

''People have been waiting so long for this,'' the assistant manager at Greater Union Manuka, Sam Monck, said.

She said tickets to Boxing Day sessions of The Hobbit had not sold out in advance, but she was still expecting a full house once the cinema opened its doors.

''We had people calling to ask if we were even open on Christmas Day for The Hobbit,'' she said.