Box Office Report: 'The Hobbit' Sets December Opening Weekend Record

As expected, the only film really worth talking about this weekend is "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey". It was the only film opening wide, and was expected to have one of the stronger openings of the entire year. And even though it did (sixth best), I'm torn on whether or not I think the film "failed" to live up to expectations. It gets silly to argue these things when you are talking about a film with one of the best openings of the year - and the highest-grossing opening ever for the month of December (we'll talk about this more below) - but with only $84.7MM, it feels like it might have left a bit on the table.

Overall, the total box office numbers were expectedly up again after a few historically low weekends. Still though, with only $131MM, five times in the past ten weeks have we seen better numbers - including the first week of October when "Taken 2" opened.

Hit the jump and I'll go over all of the specifics from the weekend.

"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey". Peter Jackson was back at the helm after previously taking the reigns of The Lord of the Rings trilogy a decade ago, which went on to become one of the most successful trilogies of all-time. Now, back for The Hobbit, which is arguably a better-known book, many people expected record-setting results (which maybe was just an overreaction on our part). Still, with $84.7MM this weekend, it recorded the most money for a film ever opening in the month of December. The previous record holder was "I Am Legend", which made $77MM back in 2007. Many will pause questioning, didn't each of the 'Lord of the Rings' movies release in December too? And you would be correct. Maybe surprisingly, none of the films ever opened with more than $72MM. We remember the massive worldwide totals, but maybe we forget that traditionally these movies just don't start off as well as some of the superhero movies or tweener romances. But at the end of the day, The Hobbit is now the best starting of all four (I will always group all of these movies together; why wouldn't you?), and is in line to possibly become the most successful, financially, of the group.

Adding to its strong domestic start, the film has also already grabbed $57MM overseas, making for a total week-one profit of just over $140MM. And though it doesn't list it, I hear that the budget for this film was somewhere around the $150MM range. There wasn't ever much doubt that it would have problems surpassing it, though. Similarly to the three The Lord of the Rings movies, it should get close to the $1BB mark worldwide. Unlike The Lord of the Rings movies, however - which all had critic scores of over 90% on Rotten Tomatoes - The Hobbit is off to a far less impressive start, registering only a 65%, which is already amongst more than 200 reviews. After seeing the film, this feels like an acceptable number to me. I will save most of my detailed opinions for this week's CinemaCast  but overall I still enjoyed the film. I do think that everyone should see it in theaters.

Other than The Hobbit, the next three films huddled around the $7MM range. "Rise of the Guardians" unofficially took second place with $7.4MM, while "Lincoln" and "Skyfall" were both right behind it with $7.2MM and $7MM, respectively. "Rise of the Guardians" has now made $71MM in four weeks, which is surely less than what DreamWorks was hoping for here. It has made $119MM internationally, however, which pulls its worldwide total up to $190MM - $45MM more than its estimated budget of $145MM.

Though it officially happened on Thursday, "Lincoln" did break the $100MM mark this week and is now sitting at $107.8MM overall. It's awesome to see a film like this doing so well, and even after six weeks now, it continues to hang around at the top of the charts. These numbers are surely helping to boost its awards run this year.

"Skyfall" continued adding to its astounding numbers, racking up a bit more both domestically and internationally, bringing its worldwide total up to just over $950MM now. A few weeks ago I questioned whether or not if this film had what it takes to break the $1BB mark, but considering that the film still hasn't released in China yet (next week), it seems more than assured to do so now. The film is currently the fifth-highest grossing film domestically over this year, but is now only $4MM behind Breaking Dawn Part 2. It should surpass that film by next week, though it shouldn't rise any higher than that.

Rounding out the top five was "Life of Pi", with $5.4MM. The film has only made $69MM domestically, but its international numbers ($128MM) have helped it to surpass its budget of $120MM. Even with its less-than-spectacular numbers, the film should be in the Best Picture conversations come Oscar time. Making as much as it has might be enough for critics to consider it enough of a success.

Nothing else really stands out to me in terms of milestones this week, so we'll just leave it at that. Be sure to check out the full numbers below, courtesy of Box Office Mojo: