"The Hobbit" Breaks Records at Box Office

The receipts from the opening weekend of Warner Bros.' The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey are in, and it appears the film has gotten off to a hotter start than its Lord of the Rings brethren. The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, debuting in 2001 and released yearly until 2003, was an overwhelming commercial success and reeled in millions of devoted fans of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic fantasy series.

But in its opening weekend, The Hobbit, a seminal tale of Bilbo Baggins' adventures, trumped all three Lord of the Rings movies, pulling in more than $84 million in the U.S. alone on its opening weekend. Not only that, but the movie reeled in more than $138 million abroad. For comparison, the three Lord of the Ring movies had domestic opening weekend box office receipts of $72 million, $62 million, and $47 million. The Hobbit opened in more theaters than any of the previous Lord of the Ring movies and the dollar figures are not adjusted for inflation. Domestically, the film broke records for largest December opening.

If its first weekend is any indication, The Hobbit looks like it will easily gross more than $400 million in the U.S., far surpassing the $377 million figure boasted by The Return of the King, the most lucrative of the three prior installments from Time Warner (NYSE: TWX  ) and its subsidiaries. 

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