Box office: ‘The Hobbit’ falls short of the first film with $31.1 million Friday

Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” journeyed to the top of the box office on Friday, earning a strong but unspectacular $31.3 million.

Although it will easily win the weekend box office crown, “Smaug” failed to match the $37.5 million debut of the first film in the series, last year’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

“Smaug” will likely pick up around $72 million for the weekend, a noticeable decrease from “An Unexpected Journey’s” $84.6 million first weekend gross in 2012. 

However, “Smaug” is doing strong business internationally, where it has so far earned a strong $24 million.

The latest J.R.R. Tolkien adaptation stars Martin Freeman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ian McKellen, Luke Evans, Orlando Bloom, Richard Armitage and Evangeline Lilly.

Meanwhile, fellow newcomer “Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas” celebrated second place on Friday, scoring $5.7 million. The holiday comedy is expected to earn between $15 million and $16 million for the weekend. 

In third place, Disney’a Frozen” picked up another $5.1 million. Its domestic total now stands at a cool $147.3 million.

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” scared up $4.1 million for fourth place, brining its total to a massive $347.9 million.

Rounding out the top five was Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World,” which added another $796,000 to its total of $196.2 million. It should cross the $200 million mark sometime next week.