The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug tops US box office
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug has topped the US box office, taking $73.7m (£45m), according to initial estimates.
But it was down on the first Hobbit instalment, which took $84.6m (£51m) in its opening weekend last year.
Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution at Warner Bros admitted the takings "could have been a little better".
He said bad weather in the east of the country "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 $1bn (£613m) worldwide [overall]," he said.
Disney animation Frozen moved down into second place taking $22.2m (£13m) in its third weekend. The film has made $164.4m (£100m) in the US since its release.
Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas came in third place with $16.2m (£9.9m). Box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian said he thought bad weather would also have affected the film's takings as Perry's films normally open in the $20m (£12m) range.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, was in fourth place with $13.2m (£8m).
NORTH AMERICAN BOX OFFICE
1. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - $73.7m
2. Frozen - $22.2m
3. Tyler Perry's a Madea Christmas - $16.2m
4. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - $13.2m
5. Thor: The Dark World - $2.7m
Catching Fire has now grossed $739.9m (£453m), surpassing the box office total for the first film which took $691m (£423m).
Thor: The Dark World remained in the top five with $2.7m (£1.6m), bringing its US domestic haul to $198.1m (£121m).
In sixth place was Out of the Furnace, starring Christian Bale and Casey Affleck, taking $2.3m (£1.4m) in its second weekend.
Disney comedy Delivery Man, starring Vince Vaughn, was at seven in its fourth weekend, with Philomena at eight ahead of The Book Thief.
Homefront, starring Jason Statham and James Franco, rounded out the top 10.
David O Russell's American Hustle opened in just six locations but took $690,000 (£422,000). It will be on general release in the US on 20 December.
As the year draws to a close Dergarabedian said the yearly box office total looked like it will eclipse 2012's $10.8bn (£6.6bn) box office record.