'The Hobbit': Middling reviews don't stop a record opening day at the box office

the-hobbit-friday-box-office.jpgThe first part of director Peter Jackson's "Hobbit" trilogy received only so-so reviews, with critics noting the sluggishness of the story early on and the sometimes distracting visuals due to Jackson's use of high-frame-rate technology.

Audiences, however, don't seem to mind, as the movie set a box-office record Friday (Dec. 14) for movies opening in December. "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" made an estimated $37.5 million -- including $13 million from Thursday midnight showings -- to break the previous mark of $30.1 million held by "I Am Legend."

The record Friday haul puts "The Hobbit" on pace to break "I Am Legend's" December weekend record as well. The Will Smith movie made $77.2 million in its first weekend in 2007.

"The Hobbit" is the only major release this weekend, so there's not a ton of competition for it at the box office. Friday's No. 2 movie, "Lincoln," made just $1.9 million. "Skyfall," "Rise of the Guardians" and "Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2" rounded out the Top 5, each making between $1.5 million and $1.85 million.

Photo/Video credit: Warner Bros./MGM