LOS ANGELES -- The Warner Bros. fantasy "Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" debuted at No. 1 at the weekend box office both domestically and internationally.
The film earned $73.6 million in U.S. ticket sales, per final numbers for the weekend box office announced by studios Monday. Though it took first place, "The Desolation of Smaug" fell short of its prequel's debut.
"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" opened this same weekend last year with $84.6 million. But the sequel earned $135.4 million in international sales, surpassing the international sales of the opening weekend of "An Unexpected Journey." Globally, "The Desolation of Smaug" has gained an impressive $209 million.
Cooling off to the No. 2 position, Disney's animated tale "Frozen" earned $22.6 million in its third weekend, bringing its overall domestic ticket total to nearly $164.8 million. Lionsgate's holiday-themed "Tyler Perry's a Madea Christmas" came in third with $16 million. "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," earned $13.7 million for the fourth-place slot, while Disney's "Thor: The Dark World" remained in the top five with $2.8 million, bringing its domestic total to $198.2 million.
With awards season well underway, The Weinstein Co.'s Oscar hopeful, "Philomena," starring Judi Dench, landed in the No. 8 spot at the weekend box office with $1.8 million. Dench received a best-actress Golden Globe Awards nomination for her performance as a nun in search of her son. David O. Russell's con artist romp, "American Hustle," opened in limited release in just six locations, scoring $740,455 over the weekend and landing at No. 15.
"American Hustle," featuring stellar performances by Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence, has been nominated for seven Golden Globe Awards and two Screen Actors Guild Awards.
At $147.5 million, the overall gross of this weekend's ticket sales surpassed the $136.5 million gained the same weekend last year. With only a few weeks left in the year for moviegoers to populate the multiplex, the wide selection of impressive films fares well for eclipsing 2012's box office record of $10.8 billion.