"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" hit theaters like a vengeful firestorm this weekend, and when the smoke cleared, Peter Jackson emerged as the last filmmaker standing as his latest fantasy epic earned an estimated $73.7 million to easily win the box office.
That's still not close to the $84.6 million "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" earned in its debut last year. But given the fact that tens of millions of fans were stuck at home due to a massive winter storm across most of the midwest and northeast, Peter Jackson and company will probably still chalk this up as a solid win.
Also in the win column: "Frozen," which proved it still has legs by earning another $22.2 million in its third weekend, bringing its domestic total to a cool $164.4 million to date. That was enough to pip "A Madea Christmas," which features auteur Tyler Perry as America's second favorite jolly old fat person; Perry rang in the holiday season with a $16 million debut.
"The Hobbit: A Desolation of Smaug" also had to deal with the lingering presence of the season's biggest blockbuster, "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." Nearly a month into its run, "Catching Fire" still keeps plugging away, earning another $13.2 million to push its domestic total past the $350 million mark.
Next weekend should be one of the most interesting of the year, as the already overcrowded marketplace welcomes the blockbuster comedy "Anchorman 2" as well as award bait favorite "Saving Mr. Banks." For now, though, here's a look at this weekend's box office top ten, courtesy of Hollywood.com:
1. "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" - $73.7m (our review)
2. "Frozen" - $22.2m (our review)
3. "A Madea Christmas" - $16m (our review)
4. "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" - $13.2m (our review)
5. "Thor: The Dark World" - $2.7m (our review)
6. "Out of the Furnace" - $2.3m (our review)
7. "Delivery Man" - $1.9m (our review)
8. "Philomena" - $1.8m (our review)
9. "The Book Thief" - $1.7m (our review)
10. "Homefront" - $1.6m (our review)