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Hobbit beats Django, Les Mis in crowded holiday field

The Hobbit prevailed over strong competition from Django Unchained and Les Miserables during the holiday weekend.

Box office competition was fierce this holiday season, with eight major releases between Dec. 19 and Dec. 25, including three on Christmas day alone. While many performances exceeded expectations, in the end holdover The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey topped the US and international box offices for the last weekend of the year, taking in $32.9 million domestically and $106.5 million internationally in its third week. It was good news for the mixed-reviewed fantasy epic Lord of the Rings prequel, which is now tracking between Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers.

The film’s earnings, along with those of fellow chart-toppers, helped make the final push to bring the 2012 box office year total to a record-breaking $10.8 billion in the US, beating 2009’s $10.6 billion.

Ranking second in the US was Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino’s bloodbath slave revenge flick starring Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz. The film made $30.7 million domestically in its first weekend, and looks like it is on pace to out gross the director’s last revised-history tale Inglourious Basterds to become his most successful film yet. Django’s UK release is scheduled for mid-January.

Musical adaptation Les Miserables trailed its more male-targeted competitors slightly but still performed well with $28 million in the US in third place. The film stars Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway as variously tortured characters spanning the social spectrum during the Paris Uprising of 1832. On the international charts, Life of Pi ranked second with $39.2 million, while Les Mis ranked third with $38.3 million. Les Mis will be released in the UK in mid-January.

Parental Guidance starring Billy Crystal and Bette Midler took in $14.8 million in the US as the only family film to debut on Christmas day. The box office intake exceeded expectations, though the comedy was critically panned.

Rounding out the US top five was novel-adaptation Jack Reacher starring Tom Cruise, which earned $14 million for the weekend. Wreck-It Ralph took fourth place internationally with $20.4 million, while Reacher took fifth place abroad with $18.1 million.

This Is 40 and Lincoln took sixth and seventh place in the US, respectively, earning $13.2 million and $7.5 million. Both films earnings’ were up from the holiday shopping-dominated weekend prior. Sixth internationally was holiday-themed Rise of the Guardians with $11.6 million.

Skyfall ranked seventh internationally with a weekend haul of $10.3 million. This latest drop in the bucket made headlines by catapulting the spy thriller past the $1 billion mark for worldwide, making it the third film of 2012 to reach this pinnacle alongside Avengers Assemble and The Dark Knight Rises. Skyfall is far and away the Bond franchise’s most profitable film to date.

After the explosive holiday weekend, things should simmer down at the US box office next week with the only major release being Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D. Additionally, Promised Land and The Impossible will expand to cinemas nationwide. In the UK, Playing for Keeps and The Impossible will be released New Year’s Day.

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