The Hobbit beats Cruise to top box-office again

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. Photo/supplied
Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. Photo/supplied

Bilbo Baggins has beaten a host of Hollywood's biggest names to stay atop the box-office rankings for a second straight week.

Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey took in $NZ44.6 million to stay number one in North America, easily beating a rush of top-name holiday newcomers.

The film raised its US domestic total to $182 million after 10 days.

It also took in $110 million overseas to bring its international total to $345 million and its total earnings to $527 million.

The Hobbit took a steep 57 per cent drop from its US domestic $103 million opening weekend, but business was soft in general as many people skipped movies in favour of last-minute Christmas preparations.

Tom Cruise's action thriller Jack Reacher debuted in second place with a modest $18.9 million debut, according to studio estimates.

Based on the Lee Child best-seller One Shot, the Paramount Pictures release stars Cruise as a lone-wolf ex-military investigator tracking a sniper conspiracy.

It made barely half as much as Cruise's last hit Mission Impossible film Ghost Protocol did in its opening, but cost about $121 million less to make.

"The real winner this weekend might be holiday shopping," said Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst for box-office tracker Hollywood.com.

Opening at number three with US$12 million was Judd Apatow's marital comedy This Is 40, a Universal Pictures film featuring Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann reprising their roles from the director's 2007 hit Knocked Up.

Paramount's road-trip romp The Guilt Trip, featuring Knocked Up star Seth Rogen and Barbara Streisand, debuted weakly at number six with $6.6 million over the weekend.

Studio executives are still hopeful Jack Reacher will fetch a respectable box-office haul.

"Jack Reacher will end up in a very good place. The movie will be profitable for Paramount," said Don Harris, the studio's head of distribution. "The first time I saw the movie I saw dollar signs. It certainly wasn't intended to be compared to a Mission: Impossible, though."

Warner Bros is also hoping for steady crowds for The Hobbit over the next week, despite the debut of two huge newcomers - the musical Les Miserables and the Quentin Tarantino action movie Django Unchained - on Christmas Day.

"We haven't reached the key holiday play time yet," said Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner. "It explodes on Tuesday and goes right through the end of the year."

US box-office top 10:

1. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, $44.6 million
2. Jack Reacher, $18.9 million
3. This Is 40, US$12 million
4. Rise of the Guardians, $7.2 million
5. Lincoln, $6.8 million
6. The Guilt Trip, $6.6 million
7. Monsters, Inc $6.1 million
8. Skyfall, $5.7 million
9. Life of Pi, $4.6 million
10. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2, $3.2 million

International box-office top 10:

1. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, $110 million
2. Life of Pi, $28.2 million
3. Rise of the Guardians, $16.6 million
4. Skyfall, $10.9 million
5. Wreck-It Ralph, $8.9 million
6. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2, $8 million
7. Pitch Perfect, $7.3 million
8. Les Miserables, $5.1 million
9. Love 911, $3.9 million
10. De L'autre Cote du Periph, $3.8 million.

- AP

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