Even the most capable bounty hunter in the south was no match for the combined force of Middle-earth's tiniest heroes during the final weekend of 2012, as "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" managed to hold onto its top spot at the box office for the third weekend in a row.

Peter Jackson's opening act in his three-part "Hobbit" series burglarized $32.9 million over the weekend, bringing its domestic total up to $222.7 million, and its worldwide gross at $686.7 million. Starring Martin Freeman as the titular hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, "An Unexpected Journey" clocks in at nearly three hours, but manages to pack numerous epic battles and breathtaking landscapes into its staggering runtime. Clearly, the moviegoers of Earth are not tired of the denizens of Middle-earth, no matter how lengthy the travel time.

"The Hobbit" held up well under significant pressure from "Django Unchained," filmmaker Quentin Tarantino's Western epic starring Jamie Foxx as a freed slave turned bounty hunter gunning his way through the pre-Civil War south to free his wife from the ruthless Calvin Candie, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. Tarantino's violent and vulgar vengeance quest roped in $30.7 million during its opening weekend, yielding a $64 million total since its release on Christmas Day. Ray Subers at BoxOfficeMojo.com predicts that in the next few weeks, "Django" will very likely surpass "Inglourious Basterds" to become Tarantino's highest-grossing film to date.

Though it debuted stronger on Christmas, Tom Hooper's "Les Miserables" trailed both "Django" and "The Hobbit" at the box office this weekend, singing up a total of $28 million. The musical adaptation, starring Hugh Jackman as a fugitive on the road to redemption, has earned $67.5 million since its holiday opening.

With few new wide releases over the coming weeks — "Texas Chainsaw 3D" and "Gangster Squad" are among the highlights — it's looking likely that Bilbo, Django and Jean Valjean will remain box office heroes well into the start of 2013.

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