'The Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug' Desolates Box Office, But Not As Thoroughly As Predicted

See that photo up there of Martin Freeman crouched on a pile of gold? That's not fiction anymore! Because The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug made some bank at the box office this weekend. Because of course it did. Desolation Of Smaug didn't quite get to what its predecessor last year's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey — made, which was a healthy $84.6 million its first weekend. Maybe the difference can be accounted to sophomore slump? Or the fact that word-of-mouth says this movie's mostly filler between the first and last films, which might drive some people away considering that An Unexpected Journey also suffered from a lot of filler?

Still, it did well enough, hauling in $73.7 million this weekend. Right behind it was Tyler Perry's A Madea Family Christmas, followed by hold-outs Frozen and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Given the presence of a dragon (aka fire-breathing creature) and the words "fire" and "frozen," you can expect a lot of heat-related puns in write-ups of the box office these coming weeks.

Now's an interesting time to be a blockbuster movie: With movies like The Hobbit you're still likely to make major bank in the box office. But you've also got award's season coming up, and therefore all sorts of competition from the films people see to remain on the "inside" of the jokes Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will make at the Golden Globes.

It's this awards season push that made American Hustle so successful this weekend despite still being in limited run. Hell, it's probably even a small part of why Catching Fire continues to do so well — if there's anybody at the center of the zeitgeist right now in both the blockbuster and prestige world, it's Jennifer Lawrence.

Some British stars in a filler epic? It'll still do pretty damn well, but it's got a lot of competition.

Image: New Line Cinema