(EW.com) -- Despite the arrival of two holiday heavyweights, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" retained the top spot at the box office for the third weekend in a row.
Warner Bros.' $250 million fantasy prequel was held out of the top spot from Tuesday until Thursday by "Les Miserables," but over the traditional weekend frame "Hobbit" dipped only 11 percent to bring in $32.9 million, and its domestic total now stands tall at $222.7 million. After 17 days, "The Hobbit" is performing well ahead of 2001′s "The Fellowship of the Ring," which had earned $189.3 million at the same point in its run (though that number climbs to about $260 million after accounting for inflation), but it still trails the 17-day cumes of "The Two Towers" ($243.6 million), and "The Return of the King" ($272.8 million). Notably, those films did not have 3D or IMAX surcharges boosting their totals.
This is not meant to imply that "The Hobbit" is underperforming. Like so many modern Hollywood tentpoles, The Hobbit's strong business overseas is the main component of its success. On Friday, the film smashed through the $600 million mark worldwide, and by the time the ball drops, its worldwide total will likely have surpassed $700 million. That's a treasure that would impress even Smaug.
In second place, "Django Unchained" galloped away with a terrific $30.7 million over the Friday-to-Sunday period, bringing its total to $64 million since its Christmas day debut. The Quentin Tarantino-directed Western, which The Weinstein Co. says cost $87 million to produce, has performed remarkably well for a controversial, R-rated film in a season often dominated by family-friendly/inspirational tales. Last year, many blamed a poor release date for the lackluster performance of "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," which settled for $102.5 million total, but "Django's" fantastic opening week counters those assumptions.
Given its robust debut, "Django Unchained" will very likely become Tarantino's highest-grossing film ahead of 2009′s "Inglorious Basterds," which earned $120.5 million total. Weinstein has every reason to believe it will reach that level. Not only was Django's $10,195 per theater average (from 3,010 theaters) the best in the Top 10, it earned an "A-" CinemaScore grade from polled audiences, which were 56 percent male.
After winning Christmas day and spending its first three days atop the box office, "Les Miserables" finished the weekend in third place with $28.0 million. Universal's $61 million adaptation of the beloved operetta (which is, in turn, an adaptation of Victor Hugo's 1862 novel) has earned a terrific $67.4 million in its first six days (plus another $48.7 million internationally), and although it has exhibited some frontloadedness due to up-front excitement from passionate fans, its "A" CinemaScore grade (and ample awards buzz) should help it hold up in the weeks to come.
"Les Miserables" has already outgrossed the last December-released musical, Nine, which flopped with just $19.7 million in 2009, and it will quickly surpass "Dreamgirls," which opened in December 2006 and scored $103.4 million total, as well. Only time will tell whether "Les Mis" can match the impressive $170.7 million total of Chicago, which began a platform release in December 2002 and rode a wave of awards attention to box office glory, but for now, its prospects don't look miserable at all.
Fox's Billy Crystal/Bette Midler vehicle "Parental Guidance" survived poor reviews and earned a not-bad $14.8 million over the weekend — the exact same amount it earned in its first three days of release. After six days, Guidance has earned $29.6 million against a modest $25 million budget, and with an "A-" CinemaScore grade and a dearth of family-oriented competition, it should hold up nicely in the new year.
Paramount's $60 million Tom Cruise thriller "Jack Reacher" rounded out the Top 5 with $14.0 million, marking a 10 percent drop from its inauspicious debut. After ten days, the novel adaptation has earned a rather unimpressive $44.7 million.
1. The Hobbit — $32.9 million
2. Django Unchained — $30.7 million
3. Les Miserables — $28.0 million
4. Parental Guidance — $14.8 million
5. Jack Reacher — $14.0 million
In milestone news, "Skyfall" reached the $1 billion mark at the worldwide box office this weekend. It is the fourteenth film to ever reach that mark.
Next week, "Texas Chainsaw 3D" will attempt to cut down "The Hobbit" and "Django Unchained." Will it prevail? Check back to EW to find out. Happy New Year!
CLICK HERE to Try 2 RISK FREE issues of Entertainment Weekly
© 2011 Entertainment Weekly and Time Inc. All rights reserved.