The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, the much anticipated second installment of Peter Jackson’s trilogy, opened at midnight on Thursday and is expected to smash the weekend box office.
The action packed film is estimated to bring in at least $80 million in the US and Canada for the three-day weekend, according to analysis of pre-release audience surveys.
The new installment in The Hobbit franchise delves right into action as the company of dwarves, lead by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), continue their quest to reclaim their lost home of Erebor from Smaug the Dragon (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch).
In contrast to the first movie, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which had to set up the story based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy novels, Desolation Of Smaug jumps right into the next chapter of the story, which left off when an unaware Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) comes oh-so-close to meeting the elusive dragon, Smaug.
Many complained in 2012 that they found the over-three-hour-long Unexpected Journey slow and too long, but hopefully the promise of meeting not only the dragon but new and familiar characters will revitalize the franchise.
Desolation Of Smaug introduces Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans), Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), Legolas (Orlando Bloom returns from Lord Of The Rings), and Thranduil (Lee Pace), plus other humans and creatures.
Forecasts indicate The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug will easily topple Frozen for the top spot at the box office, right after the Disney-animated film cooled off the red-hot Hunger Games: Catching Fire last weekend.
The debate is centered on whether Desolation Of Smaug will be more successful than the original, which made $84.6 million during its first weekend in theaters and ended up with a total of $303 million in the US and Canada.
So far, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has brought in $1 billion in sales worldwide and, together with The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, have made Peter Jackson $3.9 billion.
The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug opened in 49 foreign markets on Wednesday, including the UK, which most cast members hail from. The movie earned $2.8 million on its opening day in France, making it the top box office movie in the European country.
Last Monday, the film premiered in Los Angeles, and this week Berlin, Germany and Madrid, Spain also welcomed cast and crew to their theaters to mark the debut of the film in the continent.
Jackson left fans in suspense and anticipation at the end of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, when the first glimpse at the dragon was seen in the last scene of the film.
In the first days of release The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug has been well received by audiences in Europe, as well as the critics that have seen screenings.
The Inquisitr will share a review of the much anticipated sequel on Saturday. Stay tuned and, in the meantime, enjoy the latest Peter Jackson production video for The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug: