NEW YORK (December 16, 2012)-- Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit" leads the weekend box office with an opening of $84.8 million, a start better than the three previous "Lord of the Rings" films.
Studio estimates Sunday gave the Warner Bros. 3-D epic the biggest December opening ever, surpassing Will Smith's "I Am Legend," which opened with $77.2 million in 2007.
Despite generally poor reviews, the adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien's first novel in the fantasy series was an even bigger draw than the last "Lord of the Rings" films, "The Return of the King," which opened with $72.6 million.
While Jackson's "Rings" movies drew many Oscar nominations, the path for "The Hobbit" has been rockier.
It received no Golden Globes nominations on Thursday.
Its 48-frames-per-second, double the usual rate, also has been criticized.