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The tally includes $1.6 million in Imax grosses.
Distributed by Warner Bros., the 3D epic rolled out in 3,100 theaters at 12:01 a.m. Friday. New Line and MGM co-produced and co-financed the movie, the first in a trilogy and based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s 1937 novel The Hobbit.
Starring Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins and returning Ian McKellen in the role of the wizard Gandalf, Hobbit is set 60 years before the events chronicled in Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings franchise.
Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King earned $8 million in midnight runs in 2003.
At this pace, Hobbit is expected to open in the $75 million to $90 million range. Most box office observers expect the film to score the top December weekend opening of all time, eclipsing the $77.2 million opening of Will Smith’s I Am Legend in 2007.
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