‘The Hobbit” takes in $84.8 million

‘The Hobbit’ sets record

Peter Jackson’s ‘‘The Hobbit’’ led the box office with a haul of $84.8 million, a record-setting opening better than the three previous ‘‘Lord of the Rings’’ films. The Warner Bros. Middle-earth epic was the biggest December opening ever, surpassing Will Smith’s ‘‘I Am Legend,’’ which opened with $77.2 million in 2007, according to studio estimates Sunday. ‘‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’’ also passed the December opening of ‘‘Avatar,’’ which opened with $77 million. Internationally, ‘‘The Hobbit’’ also added $138.2 million, for an impressive debut well north of $200 million. Despite weak reviews, the 3-D adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s first novel in the fantasy series was an even bigger draw than the last ‘‘Lord of the Rings’’ movie, ‘‘The Return of the King.’’ That film opened with $72.6 million. ‘‘The Hobbit’’ is the first of another planned trilogy, with two more films to be squeezed out of Tolkien’s book. While Jackson’s ‘‘Rings’’ movies drew many accolades — ‘‘The Return of the King’’ won best picture from the Academy Awards — the path for ‘‘The Hobbit’’ has been rockier. It received no Golden Globes nominations on Thursday, though all three ‘‘Rings’’ films were nominated by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for best picture. Particularly criticized has been the film’s 48 frames per second (double the usual rate), a hyper-detailed look that some have found jarring. Most moviegoers didn’t see ‘‘The Hobbit’’ in that version, though, as the new technology was rolled out in only 461 of the 4,045 theaters playing the film. (AP)

Stones end on high note

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Only at a Rolling Stones concert could appearances by Bruce Springsteen and Lady Gaga seem almost like afterthoughts. Those superstars and other top acts including the Black Keys and John Mayer jammed with the Stones on Saturday night, winding down a series of concerts celebrating the 50th year of rock’s most enduring band (the occasion was also marked by a pay-per-view special). The Boss rocked out with the band on out ‘‘Tumbling Dice,” Gaga matched Mick Jagger shimmy-for-shimmy on ‘‘Gimme Shelter,” the Black Keys joined on ‘‘Who Do You Love,’’ and John Mayer and Gary Clark Jr. showed their considerable guitar chops alongside Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood on ‘‘Goin’ Down.’’ But the Stones would not be upstaged. While the sold-out crowd roared with each special guest, it was the aging but dynamic foursome that generated the most excitement of the night, as they put new energy into their decades-old catalog of hits, including “It’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll (But I Like It),’’ “Start Me Up,’’ “Brown Sugar,’’ “Sympathy for the Devil,’’ and more. (AP)

Adieu for Depardieu

A French newspaper is quoting actor Gerard Depardieu as saying he is turning in his passport after insults from France’s Socialist prime minister for taking up residence in tax-friendly Belgium. The Sunday weekly Le Journal du Dimanche published an open letter attributed to Depardieu in which the actor chides Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault for calling him ‘‘pathetic’’ and ‘‘unpatriotic’’ last week for moving to Belgium to escape French taxes. ‘‘I leave after paying 85 percent of my revenue in 2012,’’ the letter says. ‘‘I turn into you my passport and [my] social security card, which I have never used.’’ Depardieu, who turns 64 this month, has made more than 100 films. The Belgian village of Nechin — his new home — has drawn other high-earning French residents. (AP)

Myanmar welcomes Mraz

American singer-songwriter Jason Mraz has mixed entertainment with education to become the first world-class entertainer in decades to perform in Myanmar, with a concert to raise awareness about human trafficking. Mraz’s 2008 hit ‘‘I’m Yours’’ was the finale for the nighttime concert performed Sunday before a crowd of about 50,000 people at the base of the famous hilltop Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, the country’s biggest city. Local artists, including a hip-hop singer, opened the event organized by MTV in cooperation with US and Australian government aid agencies and the anti-slavery organization Walk Free. Myanmar is emerging from decades of isolation, thanks to a reformist government that took office last year. (AP)