Hobbit joins US box office elite with $90m debut

Undaunted hobbits have trumped princess power at the multiplex.

Per studio estimates, Warner Bros' Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was No. 1 at the weekend box office with US$73.7 million (NZ$89.15), besting last weekend's No. 1 film, Disney's animated fable Frozen.

Melting down to the No. 2 position, Frozen earned $22.2 in its third weekend, bringing its impressive overall domestic ticket total to nearly $164.4 million.

Despite its first place position, Hobbit fell short of topping its prequel's debut. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which opened this same weekend last year, gained $84.6 million.

"Hobbit rules this date and Warner Bros has linked this brand to this time of year very effectively," said box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian of Rentrak.

"We had an excellent weekend," said Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution at Warner Bros.

"Of course, it could have been a little better, but the weather back East was really tough last night and probably took a couple million dollars out of my pocket. But our box office will survive. We are right on target to do very similar numbers to the last Hobbit, which grossed a $1 billion worldwide (overall)."

Lionsgate's holiday-themed Tyler Perry's a Madea Christmas came in third place with $16.2 million.

"All of the Tyler Perry movies have done in that $20 million plus range, but the weather was a factor in some of the performances of these films," said Dergarabedian.

Another Lionsgate film, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, earned $13.2 million for the fourth place slot. To date Catching Fire has grossed $739.9 million, surpassing the worldwide box office total for The Hunger Games, which brought in $691 million.

Disney's super hero sequel, Thor: The Dark World, continues to thrive as it remained in the top five with $2.7 million, bringing its domestic total to $198.1 million.

TOP 10:

1. Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, $73.7 million
2. Frozen, $22.2 million
3. Tyler Perry's a Madea Christmas, $16 million
4. Hunger Games: Catching Fire, $13.2 million
5. Thor: The Dark World, $2.7 million
6. Out of the Furnace, $2.3 million
7. Delivery Man, $1.9 million
8. Philomena, $1.8 million
9. The Book Thief, $1.7 million
10. Homefront, $1.6 million

- AP

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