The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” showed plenty of firepower with $8.8 million in its Thursday midnight screenings in the U.S. — the second highest December showing ever after “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”

Warner Bros. reported that the total included $1.25 million from Imax shows.

The midnight gross is 32% below last year’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” which racked up $13 million amid years of anticipation from the massive fan base.

Peter Jackson’s sequel, produced by New Line and MGM, is expected to roughly equal the $84 million opening of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” while Lionsgate’s “Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas” is tracking at $20 million-plus.

“The Desolation of Smaug” has grossed $8.5 million from nine international markets on Wednesday, including France, which contributed $2.8 million opening day, followed by Sweden, with $1.7 million.


Warner Bros. reported “Smaug” took in $15.23 million on Thursday from international markets for a two-day cume of $24 million, ranking first in all markets and outpacing “An Unexpected Journey” by 11%.

Germany’s opening day on Thursday was the biggest opening of the year with $3.4 million on 1,462 screens, with a  75% of the top market share — 91% ahead of “Catching Fire” and 67% ahead of “An Unexpected Journey.”

Mexico also opened with $909,000 on 2,555 screens for 58% of the market share. New Zealand opened to $575,000 at 251 screens with 87% of the top films in the market.