The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug has topped the US box office.
The fantasy adventure film - the second instalment of Peter Jackson's trilogy starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen and Benedict Cumberbatch - opened with 73.7 million dollars (£45.1 million) to take the top spot.
However, despite its first place position the movie fell short of topping its prequel's debut. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opened over the same weekend last year with 84.6 million dollars (£51.8 million).
"We had an excellent weekend," said Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution at Warner Bros. "Of course, it could have been a little better, but the weather back East was really tough last night and probably took a couple million dollars out of my pocket. But our box office will survive. We are right on target to do very similar numbers to the last Hobbit, which grossed a billion dollars worldwide (overall)."
The Hobbit sequel took the number one position from last week's top movie, Disney's animated fable Frozen.
Frozen earned 22.2 million dollars (£13.6 million) in its third weekend, bringing its overall ticket total in America to nearly 164.4 million dollars (£100.7 million).
Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas came in third place and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was fourth.