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Audiences are heading back to Middle Earth this weekend, thanks to Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first part of his adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings prequel. The film has already had success overseas and could break the domestic box office record for a December opening.
Will Smith’s I Am Legend still holds the record for the best December opening with $77.2 million, a mark The Hobbit is expected to easily top. Box Office Mojo predicts that the film will make around $94.5 million.
However, EW notes that predictions have been all over the place and it predicts an even bigger $110 million opening, which sounds a little generous.
Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy ended nine years ago and earned $1.1 billion worldwide. The films won 17 Oscars, including one for Best Picture for the final film. While all those films were met with overwhelmingly positive responses from the moment they opened, The Hobbit is getting lukewarm notices from critics. The film is 170 minutes long and is just the first part of a planned trilogy that adapts a book that’s only 300 pages long. Jackson promised that he will include extra material from Tolkien’s appendices to flesh out the films.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, The Hobbit has already opened in several markets overseas, making $11.2 million on Wednesday alone. In France, the Warner Bros./MGM production grossed $4.3 million and $2 million in Germany.
None of the holdovers at the box office are expected to make over $10 million this weekend. Lincoln and Rise of the Guardians could find themselves in a battle for second, with both making just over $6 million.