Pulling in $31.5 million, The Desolation of Smaug stomped on Will Farrell's Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, which earned a respectable $26.8 million.
Frozen grabbed $19.2 million for third place in its 5th week, while American Hustle sold 19.1 million, good for a fourth-place finish in its second week.
“It was a solid start for Anchorman, but there were some pretty high expectations based on the first Anchorman,” said Brandon Gray, an independent box-office analyst and former president of Box Office Mojo, an industry tracker.
“People were definitely aware of the movie, but making a comedy sequel is harder than for an action movie,” he said. “Even massive media coverage won’t necessarily translate into people flocking to theaters.”