has set an opening day New Zealand box-office earnings record.
The film made $782,695 in the 24 hours after its release at midnight on Wednesday.
That gives it the biggest non-holiday Wendesday opening in New Zealand history.
Its takings compare well against The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, which grossed $757,887 on opening day and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring which earned $720,993.
Roadshow Film Distributors managing director Joel Pearlman said he was happy with the film's reception.
"We are thrilled that the film has already resonated so positively with so many New Zealanders.
"It is a spectacular and immersive visual experience."
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was shown on 203 screens in 98 locations from Kaitaia to Invercargill - the widest release ever in New Zealand.
That included 39 screens showing the film in the new 48 frames per second format.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is set to roll out in 4045 cinemas across the US on Friday.
Projections from advance ticket sales have it headed for an $83 million opening weekend in the US alone, The Hollywood Reporter said.
That puts it on pace to match The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, which made $72.6 million in North America on its opening weekend.
It would eclipse both The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, which took $65 million and $55 million respectively.
The film will also open in 55 other markets over the weekend - though its Australian release is delayed until December 26.
Marvel's recent blockbuster The Avengers holds the record for the biggest ever opening weekend after making nearly $250 million.
- Herald Online