The second instalment of the Hobbit trilogy has topped the United States box office but its opening sales there fell short of the first film's early takings.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug took in $US73.7 million according to initial estimates, Reuters reports. The first instalment An Unexpected Journey took in $US84.6 million in its opening weekend last year.
While the new film didn't meet predictions in the US and also Canada, analysts say it has faced more competition from other films than An Unexpected Journey. However, the Desolation of Smaug has earned more critical acclaim.
Dan Fellman, president of distribution at Warner Bros, admitted that the takings "could have been a little better". He said bad weather in the east of the US "probably took a couple million dollars out of the pocket", the BBC reports.
"But our box office will survive. We are right on target to do very similar numbers to the last Hobbit, which grossed $1 billion worldwide," he said.
The seasonal competition includes Frozen, A Madea Christmas and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.