Was there ever any doubt that 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' was going to dominate this weekend? Heck, it's probably going to dominate next weekend, too. If audiences embrace it like they did 'Lord of the Rings,' it may even dominate the week after that. The big question now is whether or not Peter Jackson's return to Middle Earth will make a bunch of money, but exactly how many bunches.

FilmWeekendPer Screen
1The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey$84,775,000$20,958$84,775,000
2Rise of the Guardians$7,420,000 (-28.7)$2,191$71,362,000
3Lincoln$7,244,000 (-18.8)$3,170$107,898,000
4Skyfall$7,000,000 (-35.1)$2,394$272,366,000
5Life of Pi$5,400,000 (-35.2)
6The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2$5,175,000 (-43.5)$1,701$276,865,000
7Wreck-It Ralph$3,273,000 (-32.6)$1,455$168,779,000
8Playing For Keeps$3,247,000 (-43.5)$1,143$10,838,000
9Red Dawn$2,394,000 (-43.5)$1,064$40,889,000
10Silver Linings Playbook$2,084,000 (-4.0)$5,617$16,954,000


The $84 million opening of 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' is a new December record, breaking the $77 million record set by 'I Am Legend' a few years back. It's also a bigger opening than any of the 'Lord of the Rings' films ('Return of the King' opened to $72 million in 2003), but the combination of regular 'ol inflation and 3D surcharges suggests that  it's really just about in line with Jackson's other Middle Earth adventures in terms of actual tickets sold. Still, this kills any lingering doubt that audiences were no longer interested in movies abouts Hobbits and wizards. The film will need legs if it wants to hit the $300 million plus grosses of its predecessors, but it's not going to have much in the way of direct competition for a few weeks. Things look good for Mr. Frodo Baggins.

Naturally, the huge numbers of 'The Hobbit' are at the expense of everything else in the top ten. Surprisingly, 'Rise of the Guardians' held onto the number two spot, taking advantage of the holiday season to scrape up a few more tickets. $7.4 million for the weekend isn't great (and that $71 million total is pretty dismal), but the fact that it's hanging on tooth and nail suggests that positive word about the film is spreading...but it's too little too late.

In the number three spot, 'Lincoln' continued to show that it's a marathon runner, not a sprinter. With the $100 million mark crossed, the film is a bonafide, no-questions-asked hit and one of the few serious awards contenders to have made serious bank. If it continues at this pace and keeps its percentage drops this low, it could scrape up $130 million or so.

After weeks of kicking butt in the top few slots, 'Skyfall' fell to fourth place, grossing $7 million for a $272 million total. $300 million is probably no longer an option, but when you're the highest grossing film in a fifty year old franchise, traditional benchmarks don't matter. Still, 'Skyfall' will probably play until January, so we'll wait this one out and see if the audiences keep on coming.

Can 'Life of Pi' become a surprise hit after all? It's spent a month hovering around the middle of the top ten, make modest to respectable amounts of money every week, but never really blowing anyone's socks off. But look at it now: all of those modest weeks have led to a $70 million gross. That still doesn't pay for the movie, but it's evidence that audiences are being pretty to a film that has divided so many critics.

Here's the thing about the 'Twilight' movies: they burn hot for a few weeks and quickly peter out. Unlike 'Lincoln' and 'Skyfall,' this is a franchise that makes the vast majority of its money in the first two weeks. 'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2' is just about ready to follow suit and shut down. Some of its competition will play through New Year's, but 'Twilight' is just about out of steam.

What can we expect from next week? Eh, more 'Hobbit.' In fact, get used to seeing that at the top of the box office for awhile.

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