Box office: ‘The Hobbit’ strikes gold with $37.5 million opening on Friday

Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” was the one film to rule them all this Friday at the box office, earning $37.5 million. It’s the biggest Friday gross in December of all time.

The total, boosting by pricier IMAX, 3D and 48 fps ticket prices, comes after the film earned $13 million at midnight showings Thursday night.

Look for it to bring it at least $85 million this weekend, which would also break the December opening weekend record.

Will Smith’s 2007 sci-fi epic “I Am Legend” currently holds the title with $77.2 million. 

The film, the first of three based on the book by J.R.R. Tolkien, serves as a prequel to Jackson’s mammoth “Lord of the Rings” saga and stars “LOTR” vets Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Andy Serkis and Christopher Lee, as well as newcomers Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage. 

Steven Spielberg’s leggy “Lincoln” brought in another $1.9 million for the No. 2 spot, bringing its domestic total to $102 million. Its box office isn’t likely to drop off anytime soon, as the acclaimed film keeps picking up awards left and right.  

James Bond’s latest mission, “Skyfall,” earned $1.8 million on Friday. Its U.S. box office now stands at an impressive $267 million.

The DreamWorks Animation title “Rise of the Guardians” is slowly making up for a rocky start, drawing in another $1.5 million.

Now at $65.4 million, the film’s box office is less-than-expected, but seems to be hanging in there. 

The final film (for now) in the juggernaut franchise, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn” added $1.4 million to its domestic total, which is north of $273 million. It will likely hit the magic $300 million mark soon. 

Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi” sailed away with another $1.4 million, bringing its U.S. box office cume to $65.5 million.
Look for complete weekend estimates Sunday on HitFix.