Associated Press
This film image released by Warner Bros. shows Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in a scene from the fantasy adventure "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."

With estimated gross domestic receipts of $84.78 million over the weekend, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” not only shattered the December record for biggest opening weekend, but also raked in more money than any of the films from the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy earned during their first three days of wide release.

“At 4,045 locations, ‘The Hobbit’ earned an estimated $84.78 million this weekend,” the movie website BoxOfficeMojo reported Sunday night. “That's a bit ahead of the previous December record held by 2007's ‘I Am Legend’ ($77.2 million), and also noticeably up on the three-day start for ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’ ($73.3 million). With 3D/IMAX premiums and a bit of ticket price inflation, though, ‘The Hobbit’ had lower initial attendance than both of those titles.”

“The Hobbit” achieved historic commercial success despite its tepid reception from critics. For a frame of reference, below are the Metacritic aggregation scores for ‘Hobbit’ and its three “Lord of the Rings” cousins. (All four films are adapted from the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien and produced by filmmaker Peter Jackson.)

                    • “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”: 58 out of 100 on Metacritic
                    • “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”: 94 out of 100
                    • “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”: 88 out of 100
                    • “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”: 92 out of 100
            Last week, the Deseret News examined how the new “Hobbit” movie can function as
a vehicle for teaching important values to children
        : “Tolkien scholars Devin Brown and Corey Olsen helped identify three themes that parents can discuss with their children after watching the new movie together — the deep value in doing your best, the importance of knowing yourself and being grateful for what you have, and the impact faith can have on actions and outlook.”

Jamshid Ghazi Askar is a graduate of BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School and member of the Utah State Bar. Contact him at [email protected] or 801-236-6051.