With midnight screenings bringing in as much as $13 million here in the United States, The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey is already looking like a formidable hit in these parts. Unsurprisingly, it's going to be huge overseas too. Early number suggest that it has brought in $27.3 million from 42 markets around the world, and could wind up making as much as $200 million worldwide this weekend alone.

Of course, when you set it against the record set by The Avengers this summer, when it made over $200 million in the United States alone, that doesn't seem quite as huge. But it's still a big number for a movie that's been getting mixed reviews, and a prequel to a franchise that started over a decade ago. WIth inflation and the higher 3D prices The Hobbit will likely have a bigger opening weekend than any of the three Lord of the Rings films-- Return of the King is the champ among them with a $72 million opening in 2003-- but the true test will be how well it hangs on in the crowded holiday moviegoing marketplace.

One last interesting tidbit from Deadline's box office article-- they write that while 91% of the sales at MovieTickets.com are from people who want to see The Hobbit, only 18% of those want to see it in 3D, and just 8% are choosing High Frame Rate 3D, which is the format in which Peter Jackson himself prefers audiences see it. Is 48 fps already a failure? Are people too nervous about trying out the experiment on such an anticipated film? That ought to be one of the most interesting reactions to gauge when the final box office numbers emerge on Monday.

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