The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opened to box office sales of $37.5 million to become the highest grossing Friday film ever for the month of December.
The Peter Jackson directed prequel to Lord of the Rings got off to a huge start on Friday after The Hobbit took in $13 million in midnight screenings to set the pace for what may be a record weekend for the J.R.R. Tolkien tale.
Industry analysts have The Hobbit pegged to pull in between $85-90 million in its opening weekend, which would easily surpass the December record $77 million earned by I Am Legend in 2007.
As compared to the domestic releases of the other films in the LOTR franchise, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey should become the top opening earner of all four films come Monday morning.
In 2001, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring opened to sales of over $47 million in its first weekend. In 2002, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers earned $67 million in its opening weekend. In 2003, however, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King landed the highest grossing LOTR opening with $72 million.
After breaking one December record, The Hobbit is now poised to land the record for highest grossing December film in history.
Interestingly, critics and fans appear to be divided over the final result of The Hobbit based on ratings at Rotten Tomatoes. Although critics give The Hobbit a 65% rating, fans have the prequel tracking at 81%.
“The adventure follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers.”
Have you seen The Hobbit? How does it compare to the other films in the LOTR franchise?