Initial reports show that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey earned $13 million from 3,100 screens at 12:01am last night, setting a record for December and surpassing the respective $8 million midnight gross earned by The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King way back in December 2003. It opens wide on over 4,000 screens consisting of 2,000 different viewing options today. Of course, said figure was nine years ago and without the 3D/IMAX ticket-price bump, but that's for another day. What this looks like for the weekend is pretty simple. The "prequel" is arguably heavily anticipated by hardcore-but less anticipated by the general moviegoer. I was at the midnight showings for The Two Towers and Return of the King, but nine years later, I'm merely catching an after-work screening with a friend, as much to see the 48 fps as see the film that I'm not all that excited for. Obviously some of that is me merely being an adult with a family and various adult responsibilities (four years ago, I ended up waiting until Saturday afternoon of its five-day opening weekend to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), but part of that is merely the fact that this new film is squarely pitched to the hardcore fans. That's not a bad thing, it just means that the midnight screening (and opening Friday) will be more front loaded than the prior Lord of the Rings pictures. So we're looking at a midnight-to-weekend percentage of 14-20%, with a possibility that potential bad word of mouth (obviously speculative here) gives us a multiplier closer to the 22% of the latter Harry Potter/Twilight pictures. Realistically, The Hobbit is looking at an opening weekend of between $65 million and $93 million, with an off-chance of massive front loading giving the film something akin to a $59 million opening weekend. So let's be realistic and give it $80 million for now.