"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" may not be entirely living up to fan expectations, but it is more than living up to box office expectations, as the first installment in Peter Jackson's latest fantasy trilogy debuted with a truly epic $84.8 million.
That amount easily tops the previous record for a December debut, which had been held by 2007's "I Am Legend." It also beat out the box office debuts of all three installments of "The Lord of the Rings," which, like "The Hobbit," was adapted by Jackson from J.R.R. Tolkien's series of Middle-Earth novels.
And the news was equally good for "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" overseas; through Friday, the film had taken in over $57 million internationally, leading industry insiders to speculate that the film could cross $200 million worldwide by the end of the weekend.
The dominance of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" did mean that there was little meat left on the bone for the rest of Hollywood. With no other major new releases this weekend — who would be foolish enough to open their film opposite "The Hobbit?" — returning favorites "Skyfall" and "Lincoln" stayed strong. "Lincoln" crossed the $100 million mark domestically, while "Skyfall" inched closer to the $1 billion mark worldwide. And "Silver Linings Playbook" crept back into the top ten thanks to strong buzz from its many award season nominations.
Here's a full list of this weekend's top ten, courtesy of Hollywood.com:
1. "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" - $84.8m (our review)
2. “Rise of the Guardians” – $7.4m
3. “Lincoln” – $7.2m (our review)
4. “Skyfall” – $7m (our review)
5. “Life of Pi” – $5.4m (our review)
6. “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2″ – $5.2m (our review)
7. “Wreck-It Ralph” – $3.3m (our review)
8. "Playing for Keeps" - $3.2m (our review)
9. “Red Dawn” – $2.4m (our review)
10.“Silver Linings Playbook" - $2.1m (our review)