'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' on Track to Break Box Office Records

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Warner Bros.

Though Peter Jackson's 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' hit screens mere hours ago, it's already on track to have the highest opening weekend of any picture to open in December. That's right, it's on track to open bigger than 'Avatar.'

Currently, the record for a December opening weekend is held by 'I am Legend,' which opened to $77.2 million in 2007 ('Avatar' was just behind it with $77 million). From what Variety tells us, the picture will do around $85 million after doing $13 Million in midnight business, and with an estimated $36 Million for the Friday. Even if they're a little off, it looks like it should take the record.

Unfortunately, it seems likely that having the highest opening weekend in December is the only record the film will break. 'The Avengers' will hold steady with the highest opening weekend of all time ($207 million), while it seems unlikely that 'The Hobbit' will clear either the $760 million domestic or the $2.7 billion worldwide grosses of 'Avatar' based on the numbers of previous 'Lord of the Rings' films.

That said, 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' is opening in one of the sweetest opening weekend spots for any picture. With a December 14 release date, it means that much of the next three weeks will be holiday weekends, which usually means more people going to the movies, and usually causes films to hold steady in their business, or have smaller percentage drops than normal. The question is if the issues that critics have been having with the film (most of the positve reviews come concede that the film is too long) are problems that will keep audiences from repeat viewings, or perhaps even going. We shall see, but for now, the film is off to a record-breaking start.

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