It's been a somewhat unexpected journey for The Hobbit; controversy hit as animals were reportedly harmed during filming, fans felt physically sick due to advanced 48fps technology for its New Zealand debut, and then the reviews came out...

Suffice to say, those reviews were mixed, but that doesn't mean The Hobbit... won't prevail where it really needs to: commercially. True fans of the franchise may shudder at that notion, but Warner Bros, who ploughed a reported $600 million into this film, will be hoping to recoup that and more in ticket sales alone.

The Lord Of The Rings films opened over this same weekend in December 2001, 2002 and 2003, grossing $47.2 million, $62.0 million, and $72.6 million in their respective debut weekends. All three went on to earn over $300 million domestically. The last entry to the trilogy went on to earn $1.1 billion worldwide, InsideMovies reports. 

It's partly down to the success of that franchise, the name of Peter Jackson, and the fascination that a much loved book heading to the silver screen brings, that will ensure The Hobbit... will provide a commercial medicine to some recent critical woes. 

Their marketing strategy, too, has been clever, and represents a subtle link to the LOTR films, as they promote The Hobbit as a close cousin of its predecessor, with Elijah Wood - famous for playing Frodo - towing the party line at press conferences and events.

Add to that the fantastic visuals, returning cast and the promise of two more films, and we're certain Warner Bros, Jackon et al will have something to toast on Christmas day.