LOS ANGELES — 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 $ 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 $ 149.9 million after 10 days. The film added $ 91 million overseas to bring its international total to $ 284 million and its worldwide haul to $ 434 million.

“The Hobbit” took a steep 57 percent drop from its domestic $ 84.6 million opening weekend, but business was soft in general as many people skipped movies in favor of last-minute Christmas preparations.

“The real winner this weekend might be holiday shopping,” said Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst for box-office tracker Hollywood.com.

Tom Cruise’s action thriller “Jack Reacher” debuted in second-place with a modest $ 15.6 million debut, according to studio estimates Sunday. 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 $ 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 $ 5.4 million over the weekend and $ 7.4 million since it opened Wednesday. Playing in narrower release, Paramount’s acrobatic fantasy “Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away” debuted at No. 11 with $ 2.1 million.

A 3-D version of Disney’s 2001 animated blockbuster “Monsters, Inc.” also had a modest start at No. 7 with $ 5 million over the weekend and $ 6.5 million since opening Wednesday.

Domestic business was off for the first time in nearly two months. Overall revenues totaled $ 112 million, down 12.6 percent from the same weekend last year, when Cruise’s “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” debuted with $ 29.6 million, according to Hollywood.com.

Cruise’s “Jack Reacher” opened at barely half the level as “Ghost Protocol,” but with a $ 60 million budget, the new flick cost about $ 100 million less to make.

Starting on Christmas, Hollywood expects a big week of movie-going with schools out through New Year’s Day and many adults taking time off. So Paramount and other studios are counting on strong business for films that started slowly this weekend.

“‘Jack Reacher’ will end up in a very good place. The movie will be profitable for Paramount,” said Don Harris, the studio’s head of distribution. “The first time I saw the movie I saw dollar signs. It certainly wasn’t intended to be compared to a `Mission: Impossible,’ though.”

Likewise, Warner Bros. is looking for steady crowds for “The Hobbit” over the next week, despite the debut of two huge newcomers – the musical “Les Miserables” and the action movie “Django Unchained” – on Christmas Day.

“We haven’t reached the key holiday play time yet,” said Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner. “It explodes on Tuesday and goes right through the end of the year.”

In limited release, Kathryn Bigelow’s Osama bin Laden manhunt saga “Zero Dark Thirty” played to packed houses with $ 410,000 in just five theaters, averaging a huge $ 82,000 a cinema.

That compares to a $ 4,654 average in 3,352 theaters for “Jack Reacher” and a $ 4,130 average in 2,913 cinemas for “This Is 40.” “The Guilt Trip” averaged $ 2,217 in 2,431 locations, and “Monsters, Inc.” averaged $ 1,925 in 2,618 cinemas. Playing just one matinee and one evening show a day at 840 theaters, “Cirque du Soleil” averaged $ 2,542.

Since opening Wednesday, “Zero Dark Thirty” has taken in $ 639,000. Distributor Sony plans to expand the acclaimed film to nationwide release Jan. 11, amid film honors and nominations leading up to the Feb. 24 Academy Awards.

Opening in 15 theaters from Lionsgate banner Summit Entertainment, Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor’s tsunami-survival drama “The Impossible” took in $ 138,750 for an average of $ 9,250.

A fourth new release from Paramount, “The Sopranos” creator David Chase’s 1960s rock `n’ roll tale “Not Fade Away,” debuted with $ 19,000 in three theaters, averaging $ 6,333.

Universal’s “Les Miserables” got a head-start on its domestic release with a $ 4.2 million debut in Japan.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com. Where available, latest international numbers are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” $ 36.7 million ($ 91 million international).

2. “Jack Reacher,” $ 15.6 million ($ 2.5 million international).

3. “This Is 40,” $ 12 million.

4. “Rise of the Guardians,” $ 5.9 million ($ 13.7 million international).

5. “Lincoln,” $ 5.6 million.

6. “The Guilt Trip,” $ 5.4 million.

7. “Monsters, Inc.” in 3-D, $ 5 million.

8. “Skyfall,” $ 4.7 million ($ 9 million international),

9. “Life of Pi,” $ 3.8 million ($ 23.2 million international).

10. “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2,” $ 2.6 million ($ 6.6 million international).

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Estimated weekend ticket sales at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada) for films distributed overseas by Hollywood studios, according to Rentrak:

1. “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” $ 91 million.

2. “Life of Pi,” $ 23.2 million.

3. “Rise of the Guardians,” $ 13.7 million.

4. “Skyfall,” $ 9 million.

5. “Wreck-It Ralph,” $ 7.3 million.

6. “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2,” $ 6.6 million.

7. “Pitch Perfect,” $ 6 million.

8. “Les Miserables,” $ 4.2 million.

9. “Love 911,” $ 3.2 million.

10. “De L’autre Cote du Periph,” $ 3.1 million.

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Online:

http://www.hollywood.com

http://www.rentrak.com

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Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by News Corp.; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.

  • Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman)

    Bilbo loves nothing more than the familiar comforts of his home at Bag End, and recoils at Gandalf’s suggestion that he join the dwarves’ quest, explaining that hobbits are “plain folk and have no use for adventures.” But the dwarves convince him to reconsider, citing Gandalf’s recommendation of Bilbo’s skills as a burglar (of which Bilbo claims he has none), and Bilbo begrudgingly joins the group, enticed by the opportunity of a lifetime. Soon, <a href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fC5gk9qFsDE”>says Freeman</a>, Bilbo “finds a bravery that he didn’t know he had.”

  • Gandalf the Grey (Sir Ian McKellen)

    One of five wizards of Middle Earth, Gandalf is tasked with finding a 14th member of the dwarves’ party, and recruits a reluctant Bilbo for the job. Though he accompanies the group on part of their journey — and uses his powers to help them out of trouble more than once — Gandalf soon leaves them to explore suspicions of growing evil in Middle Earth, which are discussed among members of the White Council in Rivendell.

  • Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage)

    Thorin is a dwarf prince descended from a long line of kings, and the leader of a group of 13 dwarves on a mission to take back their kingdom of Erebor, which was destroyed by the dragon Smaug. Thorin watched as Smaug killed many of his people and hoarded their bountiful treasure, sending survivors into exile and fueling his desire for revenge. “He’s gone from prince to pauper, and he’s a battle-hardened warrior,” <a href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fC5gk9qFsDE”>says Armitage</a>. “He has a fierce sense of honor, but … his outer shell is pretty impenetrable.”

  • Balin (Ken Stott)

    The second oldest dwarf in the group of 13, Balin often keeps watch while on the journey. He’s a brother to Dwalin and a relative of Thorin, a Dwarf Lord and one of Thorin’s most trusted advisors. Wise, gentle and loyal, Balin secretly has doubts about the group’s quest.

  • Dwalin (Graham McTavish)

    Balin’s brother, Dwalin is known as a fierce warrior. “They’re the kind of people you’d want on your side in a fight,” <a href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fC5gk9qFsDE”>says McTavish of dwarves</a>. Dwalin is brave and proud and speaks his mind freely, and distrusts anyone who isn’t a dwarf, especially elves.

  • Bombur (Stephen Hunter), Bofur (James Nesbitt), Bifur (William Kircher)

    <strong>Bombur (Stephen Hunter)</strong> The dwarf with the largest girth, Bombur is on the receiving end of some teasing from his fellow travelers when his size causes problems for the group. The resident cook, he’s brother to Bofur and cousin to Bifur. <strong>Bofur (James Nesbitt)</strong> Bofur loves singing and making music — he plays the clarinet — and is the brother of Bombur and cousin of Bifur. Optimistic, endearing and known to blurt things out without thinking, Bofur isn’t especially brave, but joined the quest for the Lonely Mountain to seek his part of the fortune. <strong>Bifur (William Kircher)</strong> A cousin of Bofur and Bombur, Bifur has one of the most striking physical characteristics of all the dwarves: an axe embedded in his forehead. While that limits his ability to communicate outside grunts and hand gestures, he’s considered feisty.

  • Fili (Dean O’Gorman), Kili (Aidan Turner)

    <strong>Fili (Dean O’Gorman)</strong> Fili, the second-youngest member of the group, is the older brother of Kili and Thorin’s nephew. He’s never seen the Kingdom of Erebor, having been born after it was taken by Smaug, but joins the quest despite his youth and inexperience. <strong>Kili (Aidan Turner)</strong> Thorin’s nephew and Fili’s brother, Kili is the youngest member of the dwarves’ group. His character <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6kbDyPhx2w&list=UU64TPBGPU1aPrSxIDYkNGpA&index=11″>has been described by members of the cast as</a> “the sexy one,” and the actors have joked that if there were a boy band in Middle Earth, Kili would be its leader. Not just a pretty face, Kili is also a skilled archer, and determined to prove himself.

  • Oin (John Callen), Gloin (Peter Hambleton)

    <strong>Oin (John Callen)</strong> Oin and his brother Gloin are distant cousins of Thorin. Well-read and curious, Oin is known for his ability to make healing herbal salves. He joined the quest out of loyalty to his people – and the large monetary investment he’s made in the journey. <strong>Gloin (Peter Hambleton)</strong> Brother to Oin and cousin of Thorin, Gloin is the most outspoken member of the group, and is skeptical of Bilbo’s abilities at first. He’s known in the book for his skill at making fires. He’s also the father of Gimli, the dwarf who features prominently in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

  • Nori (Jed Brophy), Ori (Adam Brown), Dori (Mark Hadlow)

    <strong>Nori (Jed Brophy)</strong> Quick-witted and wily, Nori is brother to Dori and Ori, and joins the quest to evade the dwarvish authorities, with whom he always seems to be in trouble. He’s known to be elusive and dodgy, and prone to clashing with his brothers. <strong>Ori (Adam Brown)</strong> Ori is the youngest sibling of Nori and Dori, and a talented artist who chronicles the group’s journey. He’s polite but courageous. <strong>Dori (Mark Hadlow)</strong> Dori is the older brother of Nori and Ori, and a distant relative to Thorin. He’s the strongest member of the group, but also extremely pessimistic, and constantly looking out for Ori.

  • Elrond (Hugo Weaving)

    The elf lord who rules Rivendell, Elrond and his people host Gandalf, Bilbo and the dwarves early on in their journey. Rivendell provides the setting for the White Council to convene, where Elrond, Gandalf and Saruman discuss a growing darkness in Middle Earth. Jackson referred to the council as “the United Nations of Middle Earth,” and <a href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fC5gk9qFsDE”>Weaving has said it</a> “play(s) a role in illuminating the broader political landscape” of the films.

  • Galadriel (Cate Blanchette)

    Elf royalty in her own right, Galadriel is present for the White Council meeting at Rivendell, and speaks privately to Gandalf about her concerns over the growth of evil in Middle Earth, and its apparent source. She possesses the gift of foresight.

  • Saruman the White (Christopher Lee)

    A member of the White Council that meets at Rivendell, Saruman is the source of some suspicion among his fellow council members. One of the wizards of Middle Earth, Saruman is also one of the villains of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

  • Gollum (Andy Serkis)

    This iconic character from the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy makes his debut in “The Hobbit.” Described in the book as “a small and slimy creature,” Gollum has a penchant for talking to himself, saying things like “my precious” and adding extra S’s to words. Bilbo stumbles upon Gollum when he’s lost in the goblins’ caves, and must solve a host of Gollum’s riddles if he wants to escape alive. Gollum eventually realizes that Bilbo has found and kept his ring — the One Ring to rule them all — which sets in motion the events of “The Lord of the Rings.”

  • Radagast the Brown (Sylvester McCoy)

    Radagast is given only a passing mention in the book — he’s a wizard who lives on the southern border of Mirkwood, and is Gandalf’s cousin — but plays a larger role in the film. According <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTUQi8HBlg4″>to one crew member,</a> Radagast is “a lovely spirited wizard,” and an animal-loving, forest-dwelling hermit who senses a dark change in Middle Earth when trees and animals begin dying in his forest.

  • Great Goblin (Barry Humphries)

    While seeking shelter from a storm, Bilbo and the dwarves accidentally stumble upon the lair of the Great Goblin and his followers, and are captured. A great battle — one that was expanded for the film — ensues.

  • Bert, William and Tom (Mark Hadlow, Peter Hambleton and William Kircher)

    These three trolls have cockney accents and the plainest-sounding names in all of Middle Earth, but they’re anything but ordinary. The group of 14 stumbles upon the trolls’ campfire near the start of the journey, and a fight soon breaks out. Jackson calls this encounter one of the most iconic scenes in the book.


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