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December 18, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey turned out to be an early Christmas gift for the studios that produced it, New Line and MGM, and for the nation’s theater owners over the weekend. Final figures indicated that the movie earned $84.6 million, setting a record for a December opening and making it the fourth-biggest debut of the year. Moreover, the domestic tally far exceeded those for the opening weekends of the three Lord of the Rings movies, which produced ticket sales of $72 million, $62 million, and $47 million. Those figures do not account for the rise in ticket prices, and The Hobbit had something going for it than the Rings trilogy did not — surcharges for 3D and IMAX screenings. Box officer tracker Paul Dergarabedian on Monday pointed out that 49 percent of moviegoers opted for the more expensive tickets. The previous record for a December opening was held by 2007’s I Am Legend, but Will Smith and company could take comfort in knowing that their film sold more tickets than The Hobbit. Far behind in second place with $7.1 million was the family film Rise of the Guardians, followed closely by Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln with $7 million, pushing its domestic total past $100 million. The James Bond thriller Skyfall followed in fourth place, bagging $6.6 million in its sixth week. And Ang Lee’s Life of Pi rounded out the top five with $5.4 million. Overall, the box office was up 18 percent over the comparable weekend a year ago, when Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows opened with $39.6 million.

The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Box Office Mojo (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):

1. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Warner Bros., $84,617,303, (New); 2. Rise of the Guardians, Paramount/DreamWorks Animation, $7,143,445, 4 Wks. ($71,085,268); 3. Lincoln, Disney/DreamWorks, $7,033,132, 6 Wks. ($107,687,319); 4. Skyfall, Sony/Columbia, $6,555,732, 6 Wks. ($271,921,795); 5. Life of Pi, Fox, $5,413,066, 4 Wks. ($69,572,472); 6. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2, Summit/Lionsgate, $5,136,074, 5 Wks. ($276,826,143); 7. Wreck-It Ralph, Disney, $3,216,043, 7 Wks. ($168,721,592); 8. Playing for Keeps, Film District, $3,146,443, 2 Wks. ($10,737,535); 9. Red Dawn, Film District, $2,408,882, 4 Wks. ($40,904,305); 10. Silver Linings Playbook, The Weinstein Co. $2,109,274, 5 Wks. ($16,979,323).