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'The Hobbit' Poised to Set December Opening Record

Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” is expected to set December opening records at the domestic box office and overseas.

Nine years after The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King earned over $1.1 billion worldwide and won 11 Academy Awards, director Peter Jackson is taking audiences back to Middle Earth with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

According to Box Office Mojo, this first entry in the prequel trilogy is guaranteed to set a new December opening weekend record in 4,045 theaters -- the widest release ever in December – although a three-day start north of $100 million is not in the forecast.

Fellowship of the Ring opened in December 2001, earning $313.4 million at the domestic box office, and the following December The Two Towers grossed $339.8 million. In December 2003, The Return of the King opened to $124.1 million in its first five days before closing with $377 million. All together, the three movies earned over $2.9 billion worldwide on a budget of roughly $300 million.

The current December opening weekend record holder is I Am Legend with $77.2 million.

Box office Mojo predicts The Hobbit will hold on to first place through the holiday season, bringing in upwards of $300 million at the domestic box office. Overseas, the film debuts in 55 markets this weekend, and is expected to net over $700 million from foreign markets.

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