The final movie of "The Hobbit" by Peter Jackson is doing pretty well around the world.

In its second weekend, "The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies" has earned a total of $600 million worldwide. Just in the US, it has topped $170 million. For this past weekend, it was the top money-earner, with $54.5 million, while Universal's "Unbroken" was a few million behind with $47 million and Disney's "Into the Woods" was in third with $46 million.

I saw "The Hobbit" this weekend at Hamilton's Pharaohplex. The movie theater was THE place to be this weekend. I saw many friends in the lines, waiting for "The Hobbit," along with "Unbroken," and "The Interview" (the only theater in Montana showing it on Christmas day.)

Joe McLean, owner of the Pharaohplex, was smiling. He had many moviegoers throughout his multiplex. However, he was most impressed with "The Hobbit" - especially with the new Hi-Def 3-D version.

And I agree that you need to see this film on the "big screen" to get all the detail and epic impact that Peter Jackson has poured into recreating Middle Earth. I was worried that we'd get lost in the battle scenes, but the pacing was good - and the elf moves of Legolas rivaled any of his gravity-defying stunts in "Lord of the Rings."

The nice thing about doing a prequel is that you can foreshadow the later movies, which is done nicely in separate scenes that include Bilbo, Saruman, Gandalf and Legolas.

When I read the Hobbit as a teenager, the Ring was mysterious enough that I jumped easily into the Lord of the Rings trilogy. That jump was made even easier with this film.

The film is shorter than any of Jackson's other Middle Earth movies and that's a good thing - it rolled right along and it left me wanting more. Yet, the ending "payoffs" were satisfying.

Those expecting a lot of dragon will love Smaug's appearance but will be disappointed with his small part in the movies. I think, however, that the remainder of the movie made up for it. Try not to be controlled by your expectations. Go along for the ride.

There are at least two main audiences that Peter Jackson has always had to satisfy:

  • Those who want to actually live in Middle Earth; who love the gentle and detailed narrative of the books.
  • Those who enjoy fantasy tales (with a touch of mystery) in epic settings with a "ripping good" adventure.
  • It is impossible to completely satisfy either of those camps, but I'll bet Peter Jackson is satisfied with what he has accomplished. The world has been built. Middle Earth now truly exists on film as well as in books.