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"The Hobbit" Beats Tarantino at the Box Office

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Celebrity director Quentin Tarantino's new film, Django Unchained, made a splashy debut -- but only strong enough to take the No. 2 position at the box office this past weekend. The movie, which is distributed by the privately held Weinstein Company, brought in slightly less than $31 million in its freshman weekend, according to data compiled by Box Office Mojo.

Defeating Django to take No. 1 was the durable fantasy adaptation The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Now the leader for the third week in a row, the epic film sold nearly $33 million worth of tickets, said Box Office Mojo. It has now grossed more than $222 million domestically and $464 million abroad. It is distributed by Time Warner (NYSE: TWX  ) unit Warner Bros.

Taking third place this past weekend was another adaptation, the musical version of the classic drama Les Miserables. The movie made $28 million  to cap 2012 pleasantly for distributor Universal, a subsidiary of General Electric (NYSE: GE  ) and Comcast's (NASDAQ: CMCSA  ) NBC Universal.

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