Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" took in $36.7 million to remain No. 1 at the box office for the second-straight weekend, easily beating a rush of top-name holiday newcomers. Part one of Jackson's prelude to his "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, the Warner Bros. release raised its domestic total to $149.9 million after 10 days.
Studio estimates Sunday put Tom Cruise's action thriller "Jack Reacher" in second place with a modest $15.6 million debut. Based on the Lee Child best-seller "One Shot," the Paramount Pictures release stars Cruise as a lone-wolf ex-military investigator tracking a sniper conspiracy.
Opening at No. 3 with $12 million was Judd Apatow's marital comedy "This Is 40," a Universal Pictures film featuring Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann reprising their roles from the director's 2007 hit "Knocked Up."
Paramount's road-trip romp "The Guilt Trip," featuring "Knocked Up" star Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand, debuted weakly at No. 6 with $5.4 million over the weekend and $7.4 million since it opened Wednesday. Playing in narrower release, Paramount's acrobatic fantasy "Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away" also drew light crowds, debuting at No. 11 with $2.1 million.
A 3-D version of Disney's 2001 animated blockbuster "Monsters, Inc." also had a modest start at No. 7 with $5 million over the weekend and $6.5 million since opening Wednesday.
In limited release, Kathryn Bigelow's Osama bin Laden manhunt saga "Zero Dark Thirty" played to packed houses with $410,000 in just five theaters, averaging a huge $82,000 a cinema.
That compares with a $4,654 average in 3,352 theaters for "Jack Reacher" and a $4,130 average in 2,913 cinemas for "This Is 40." ''The Guilt Trip" averaged $2,217 in 2,431 locations, "Monsters, Inc." averaged $1,925 in 2,618 cinemas and "Cirque du Soleil" did $2,542 in 840 theaters.
Since opening Wednesday, "Zero Dark Thirty" has taken in $639,000. Distributor Sony plans to expand the acclaimed film to nationwide release in January, amid film honors and nominations leading up to the Feb. 24 Academy Awards.
Opening in 15 theaters from Lionsgate banner Summit Entertainment, Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor's tsunami-survival drama "The Impossible" took in $138,750 for an average of $9,250.
A fourth new release from Paramount, "The Sopranos" creator David Chase's 1960s rock 'n' roll tale "Not Fade Away," debuted with $19,000 in three theaters, averaging $6,333.