‘The Hobbit’ Rules The Box Office

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies is the culmination of a journey director Peter Jackson began 13 years ago with the 2001 release of The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. Audiences all over the world have paid to see Jackson’s sweeping vision of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth, and Battle of the Five Armies is no exception.

In it’s first weekend of release, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies earned a staggering $56.2 million at the domestic box office, bringing it’s domestic box office total since it’s release on Wednesday December 17 to $90.6 million. That’s far ahead of it’s nearest rival, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, which took only $17.3 million. So far, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies has earned $355.6 million worldwide.

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies’s dominance of the box office has certainly been helped by the sheer number of options viewers have to enjoy the film. Business Insider reports that The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies is available in five different viewing options. In addition to the standard 2D option, viewers can see The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies in 3D, high frame rate (HFR), high frame rate 3D, and IMAX 3D.

Unlike many blockbuster releases, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies was specifically shot for 3D, so viewers who enjoy 3D films need not fear dark shots and murky visuals. Films are typically shot at 24 frames per second, but Jackson’s The Hobbit series was shot and released in 48 frames per second. The effect is to make images more clear and crisp, but because actors and objects move more quickly and smoothly than most viewers are used to, high frame rate viewing can also be jarring. By contrast, high frame rates allow the computer generated visual effects to shine in ways they never have before.

Regardless of how viewers feel about high frame rate films, they may be a growing movie trend. According to the Verge, legendary director James Cameron has discussed releasing the next three films in the Avatar series at 48 or even 60 frames per second. Reportedly, Cameron did research that suggested that 60 frames per second or higher is less jarring to viewers. And a mass conversion to higher frame rates can only come after current film practices, which are all designed to create a picture best viewed at 24 frames per second, are adapted.

Of course, not everyone is a fan of The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies’ high frame rates, or Peter Jackson in general. According to Wired, there is too much Peter Jackson in the film version of Middle Earth, and not enough Tolkien. Wired’s biggest complaint about The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies is the lack of realism and believability.

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies is now showing in theaters.