Australian Box Office: 'The Hobbit' Bows Wednesday to Record $6.1 Million

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey McKellen Freeman Bilbo - H 2012
Warner Bros. Pictures

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey McKellen Freeman Bilbo - H 2012

UPDATED: Peter Jackson's fantasy-epic crosses $500 million globally, reaching $523.7 million in ticket sales; "Les Miserables" also opens Wednesday in Australia, breaking records for a musical.

Hollywood enjoyed a prosperous Boxing Day in Australia, where Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Tom Hooper's Les Miserables both debuted to big numbers Wednesday.

Hobbit, from New Line and MGM, opened to $6.1 million, the biggest Boxing Day gross on the books and the third-biggest opening day of all time behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part I and The Avengers.

Australians are a natural audience for Hobbit, since Jackson is from neighboring New Zealand. Jackson's The Lord of the Rings franchise did substantial business in Australia.

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Overall, The Hobbit has now earned $344 million internationally for a worldwide cume of $523.7 million. But in many territories, it continues to lag behind The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, which took in $742 million internationally and $1.1 billion worldwide in 2003.

From Universal, Les Mis opened to $1.8 million in Australia, the best opening day performance for a musical and 45 percent ahead of international blockbuster Mamma Mia!. It also marked Australian star Russell Crowe's best opening day.

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Les Mis is off to a strong start overseas, where it has grossed $28.3 million from only seven markets since opening last weekend. In Japan, where it is the No. 1 Hollywood film, Les Mis has earned $8.6 million in six days.

In North America, Les Mis debuted to $18.1 million on Christmas Day -- the second-best showing of all time for the holiday -- and earned another $12.2 million on Wednesday for a worldwide total of $58.6 million.