Everyone expected this weekend's highly anticipated release of the The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, part one of Peter Jackson's trilogized interpretation of Tolkien's one book story, to be a major financial success. But was it really as successful as everyone thought?

After a successful midnight opening, An Unexpected Journey spent the rest of the weekend raking in the grand sum of $84 million. While that handily topped I Am Legend's $77 million record for the biggest December opening, it fell well short of the $100 million many forecasters expected it to make.

Based on numbers run by Box Office Mojo, An Unexpected Journey also had an unexpectedly low audeince turn out. Thanks to higher ticket prices and bloated specialty tickets (3D and IMAX screenings), fewer people actually shelled out money to take in the first round of The Hobbit than did for either The Two Towers or The Return of the King, the last two films where Jackson visited Tolkien's Middle Earth.

What does that mean for the franchise? Probably nothing important. It should give director Peter Jackson a moment of pause, to realize that audiences aren't as engaged this time around as they were for the The Lord of the Rings trilogy. After all, each of those three movies scored a solid 90%+ on Rotten Tomatoes while The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey settled out at aruond 65%. Maybe he needs to streamline his story a bit, get audeinces and critics back on board.

But will Jackson have such a moment? Doubtful. He has the story he wants to tell, regardless of the audience. And if his movie is breaking records and turning the same kinds of massive profits as before, there's no one going to stop him from telling that story just the way he wants!

Otherwise it was a quiet week at the box office with most of the last month's bigger hits still floating at the top while the drivel sifted its way down, getting ready to make way for the rest of December's Oscar-baiting releases.

For the full weekend top ten, check out the chart below:

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey * $84,775,000 Total: $84,775,000 LW: N WR: 1
THTRS: 4,045
Rise of the Guardians $7,420,000 Total: $71,362,000 LW: 2 WR: 4
THTRS: 3,387
Lincoln $7,244,000 Total: $107,898,000 LW: 4 WR: 6
THTRS: 2,285
Skyfall $7,000,000 Total: $272,366,000 LW: 1 WR: 6
THTRS: 2,924
Life of Pi $5,400,000 Total: $69,559,000 LW: 5 WR: 4
THTRS: 2,548
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 $5,175,000 Total: $276,865,000 LW: 3 WR: 5
THTRS: 3,042
Wreck-It Ralph $3,273,000 Total: $168,779,000 LW: 7 WR: 7
THTRS: 2,249
Playing for Keeps $3,247,000 Total: $10,838,000 LW: 6 WR: 2
THTRS: 2,840
Red Dawn (2012) $2,394,000 Total: $40,889,000 LW: 8 WR: 4
THTRS: 2,250
Silver Linings Playbook $2,084,000 Total: $16,954,000 LW: 11 WR: 5
THTRS: 371

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