Warner Bros. and New Line put the much-anticipated The Hobbit in 4,045 theaters and reaped the rewards as a result. With the aid of hefty IMAX and 3D surcharges, the film earned $37.5 million on Friday, besting the previous single-day take in December originally held by The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King with $34.5 million. As a result, The Hobbit now holds the franchise single-day box office record as well.
The best December opening weekend record belongs to I Am Legend with $77.2 million, at least for the next day or so. That mark will definitely fall this weekend with the only question being by how much. Expect The Hobbit to wrap its opening weekend somewhere in the range of $85 to $100 million, perhaps toward the upper end considering it currently holds an "A" CinemaScore rating despite mixed reviews from critics that moviegoers appear to be shrugging off.
Lincoln took second on Friday with $1.93 million, barely beating out Skyfall which brought in $1.85 million. The latest Bond adventure now has earned $267.2 million and continues its march toward crossing $300 million domestically and possibly $1 billion worldwide. Steven Spielberg's step back in America's history has now crossed $100 million and will be announced for Blu-ray and DVD early next month.
Rise of the Guardians continues to under perform and came in fourth place with $1.52 million. Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner and the supernatural gang closed the top five as The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 added to its big $273.2 million total total with another $1.48 million.
Stop by Sunday afternoon to see if Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was able to cross $90 million and possibly even breach $100 million after its first 72 hours of release.