Peter Jackson’s second Hobbit feature has become the top-grossing Christmas release in North America. The made-in-Miramar movie has kept the number one position every day since it opened on December 12. And its total world-wide box office gross is already more than $US500 million.
The Hollywood Reporter says on Boxing Day the film’s North American box office reached $US160.5 million. It has also grossed more than $US340 million internationally.
The second movie in The Hobbit trilogy was the number one film in Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, South Korea and the UK, as well as New Zealand.
The Desolation of Smaug had North America’s fourth-biggest December opening ever, behind An Unexpected Journey ($US84.6 million), I Am Legend ($US77.2 million) and Avatar ($US77 million). It opened just ahead of Jackson’s third Lord of the Rings film, The Return of the King, which grossed $US72.6 million in its debut in December 2003.
Smaug was released in 3,903 US theaters with an audience comprised of 60 percent males and 40 percent females.
The Los Angeles Times has given special praise to Weta’s work creating Smaug:
The novel might be called “The Hobbit,” but with the December release of Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” the dragon was all anyone was talking about. Digitally created by the artists at Weta Workshop based on Benedict Cumberbatch’s motion capture performance, Smaug came to beautifully rendered life in the second installment of Jackson’s planned trilogy based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s landmark 1937 children’s book. Even Jackson’s creative collaborator Philippa Boyens joked that she’d begun referring to the film as “Enter the Dragon.”
Cumberbatch said his father had read “The Hobbit” to him as a child, and the novel was an emotional touchstone in his life. “When I heard it was happening, I thought I really need to audition for this,” Cumberbatch told Hero Complex. “I knew I wasn’t really right for a hobbit and maybe an elf, or a dwarf. It was always Smaug for me, always, always. He’s just such an extraordinary creature in the book. He’s got a lot of personality. He’s not just a presence of animal — he’s got very wrong human emotions, avarice and venality and cruelty but also charm. I just thought he was a fascinating villain, a beautiful mythical creature.”
The New York Times, however, has focused its admiration on the super-sized spiders created by Weta Digital.