Fans have waited for the release of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" for nearly two decades, and they showed their enthusiasm at the box office. The prequel to the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy raked in $84.77 million over the weekend in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales, breaking the previous December record of $77.2 million set by the Will Smith film "I Am Legend" in 2007.
Dwarves, hobbits and a dragon named Smaug are a winning combination.
The 3-D film directed by Peter Jackson, who also directed the three "Lord of the Rings" films, is the first of three based on the 1937 classic novel by J.R.R.
Tolkien. Warner Bros. hopes to build on the success of the "Rings" series, one of Hollywood's biggest franchises with $2.9 billion in global ticket sales.
In second place was the animated family film "Rise of the Guardians" with $7.4 million, followed by "Lincoln" starring Daniel Day-Lewis, with $7.2 million, according to studio estimates. The James Bond movie "Skyfall" landed in fourth place with $7 million, followed by "Life of Pi," with $5.4 million and "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2" with $5.17 million.