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'Hobbit' fever beats Tom Cruise at box office

Updated: 2012-12-24 10:14

'Hobbit' fever beats Tom Cruise at box office

New Zealand director Peter Jackson (C) and cast members Richard Armitage (L), Martin Freeman (2nd L), Elijah Wood (2nd R) and Andy Serkis attend the Japan premiere of their movie 'The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey' in Tokyo December 1, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

The dwarfs and elves of "The Hobbit" overpowered Tom Cruise to take the box office title for a second time, grabbing $37.6 million in US and Canadian ticket sales as a crowd of new films fought for pre-holiday audiences.

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Cruise's crime drama "Jack Reacher," a film about a fatal sniper attack, landed in second place with $15.6 million. In third place, adult comedy "This is 40" pulled in $12 million, according to studio estimates compiled by Reuters on Sunday.

'Hobbit' fever beats Tom Cruise at box office

Royal premiere of film 'The Hobbit' 

'Hobbit' fever beats Tom Cruise at box office

'This is 40' premieres in Hollywood 

Domestic ticket sales for "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" fell by about 57 percent during the film's second weekend. Movie receipts typically drop 40 percent to 60 percent each week.

In international markets, "Hobbit" sales reached $284 million and brought the movie's global take to $434 million, distributor Warner Bros. said.

"The Hobbit" is the first of three movies based on the classic J.R.R. Tolkien novel set in the fantasy world of Middle Earth. The films, produced by MGM and Warner Bros.' New Line Cinema, are prequels to the blockbuster "Lord of the Rings" franchise that brought in box office gold a decade ago.

Producers of "The Hobbit" and other films hope to enjoy a big boost this week around the Christmas and New Year's holidays. The current crop will face competition starting on Tuesday, Christmas Day, from Quentin Tarantino's Western "Django Unchained," musical "Les Miserables" and comedy "Parental Guidance".

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