The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is such a huge release that no other movie even dares to open wide against it, meaning that no matter how big a hit it is, the weekend belongs to Bilbo Baggins. But based on the early results from last night's midnight screenings, The Hobbit will be having one of the biggest weekends ever for a December release.

According to the reports at Coming Soon, The Hobbit made $12.4 million in midnight screenings last night, putting it on track for a strong weekend. That's not enough to crack the top 10 of the biggest-ever midnight openings-- the record is held by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2's $43.5 million-- but it's a solid $4 million more than Return of the King brought in when it first opened in 2003 (according to Time). Of course, 10 years ago midnight screenings weren't the same phenomenon they are now, and when you factor in inflated ticket prices and the 3D surcharge, they're about even.

We'll see how that big opening translates into the overall weekend. The current record for biggest December opening weekend is held by I Am Legend, which opened to $77.2 million in 2007. Can The Hobbit beat it? We'll have a detailed report for you tomorrow to let you know how close it is to getting there.

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