The Hobbit enjoys record opening at US box office
18th December 2012
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first of three films based on the classic 1937 novel by J. R. R. Tolkien, took $84.8 million (£52.4 million) in its opening weekend at the US box office, making it the largest December release of all time.
The film outperformed the $72.7 million US debut of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – Hobbit director Peter Jackson's previous best December opening.
In second place was animated family film Rise of the Guardians with $7.4 million, followed by Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as the US president, which made $7.2 million, according to estimates from Hollywood.com.
The previous December record was set by Will Smith-starring sci-fi film I Am Legend, which took $77.2 million on its release in 2007.
Dan Fellman, president of theatrical distribution for Warner Bros, told the BBC: 'The best we were hoping for was to reach or exceed the $77 million set by that movie and we did it by quite a lot. It was all good and we're very happy about it.
'You have to assume that by the time this first week is over we are going to have around $110 million in the bank before the holiday even starts.'
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey follows the epic journey of hobbit Bilbo Baggins, played by Martin Freeman, and also stars Ian McKellan as the wise old wizard Gandalf and Andy Serkis as Gollum.
The next two movies in the franchise, set in Middle-earth 60 years before The Lord of the Rings, are scheduled for release in December 2013 and July 2014.