LOS ANGELES (AP):
Tiny hobbit Bilbo Baggins is running circles around some of the biggest names in Hollywood.
Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, took in US$36.7 million to remain No. 1 at the box office for the second-straight weekend, easily beating a rush of top-name holiday newcomers. Part one of Jackson's prelude to his The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Warner Bros release raised its domestic total to US$149.9 million after 10 days.
Studio estimates yesterday put Tom Cruise's action thriller Jack Reacher in second place with a modest US$15.6-million debut. Based on the Lee Child best-seller One Shot, the Paramount Pictures release stars Cruise as a lone-wolf ex-military investigator tracking a sniper conspiracy.
Opening at No. 3 with US$12 million was Judd Apatow's marital comedy This Is 40, a Universal Pictures film featuring Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann reprising their roles from the director's 2007 hit Knocked Up.
Paramount's road-trip romp The Guilt Trip, featuring Knocked Up star Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand, debuted weakly at No. 6 with US$5.4 million over the weekend and US$7.4 million since it opened Wednesday. Playing in narrower release, Paramount's acrobatic fantasy Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away also drew light crowds, debuting at No. 11 with US$2.1 million.
A 3-D version of Disney's 2001 animated blockbuster Monsters Inc," also had a modest start at No 7 with US$5 million over the weekend and US$6.5 million since opening Wednesday.
In limited release, Kathryn Bigelow's Osama bin Laden manhunt saga Zero Dark Thirty played to packed houses with US$410,000 in just five theatres, averaging a huge US$82,000 a cinema.
That compares with a US$4,654 average in 3,352 theatres for Jack Reacher and a US$4,130 average in 2,913 cinemas for This Is 40. The Guilt Trip averaged US$2,217 in 2,431 locations, Monsters Inc, averaged US$1,925 in 2,618 cinemas and Cirque du Soleil did US$2,542 in 840 theatres.
Since opening Wednesday, Zero Dark Thirty has taken in US$639,000. Distributor Sony plans to expand the acclaimed film to nationwide release in January, amid film honours and nominations leading up to the February 24 Academy Awards.
Opening in 15 theatres from Lionsgate banner Summit Entertainment, Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor's tsunami-survival drama The Impossible took in US$138,750 for an average of US$9,250.
A fourth new release from Paramount, The Sopranos creator David Chase's 1960s rock 'n roll tale Not Fade Away, debuted with US$19,000 in three theatres, averaging US$6,333.