The fantasy saga from New Line/MGM/Warner Bros stayed atop the box office despite a 57% slide and grossed an estimated $36.7m to climb to $149.9m heading into the holidays. Disney crossed the $1.5bn mark for the year-to-date.

IMAX reported a $4.1m weekend and executives said the film has generated $29.5m worldwide so far. Factoring in the $284m international tally, the film has already generated $433.9m worldwide.

Overall the top 12 generated $101.5m. This was a slow session compared to last weekend and it fell slightly behind the Dec 23-25 2011 period, when the top 12 produced $114.4m.

Disney top brass announced that on Saturday (22) the company reached the $1.5bn threshold for the second time in its history. It previously did so in 2003.

Paramount’s Tom Cruise thriller called Jack Reacher opened in second place on a lacklustre $15.6m while Universal’s Judd Apatow comedy This Is 40 arrived in third on a mild $12m.

Paramount’s comedy The Guilt Trip with Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand arrived in sixth place on a feeble $5.4m, followed by Buena Vista’s 3D re-issue of Monsters, Inc in seventh place on $5m.

The highlight of the session was without doubt Sony’s cleverly calibrated platform release of Zero Dark Thirty [pictured], which debuted in five sites on $410,000 for an $82,000 per-theatre average. Kathryn Bigelow’s thriller stars Jessica Chastain and is a heavyweight awards contender. The running total climbs to $639,000 factoring in two days of box office since the film opened on Dec 19.

Paramount opened Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away in eleventh place on $2.1m while Eros opened Debangg 2 in fourteenth place on $1m.

Summit’s The Impossible, which has generated heat for Naomi Watts’ performance as a tsunami survivor, opened on $139,000 from 15 sites for  $9,267 average. SPC opened Michael Haneke’s acclaimed Amour on $70,7000 from three for an excellent $23,567 average. Paramount Vantage opened Not Fade Away on $19,000 from three sites.

Next weekend’s wide releases are: Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained through TWC (Sony holds international rights); Universal’s Les Misérables; and Fox’s Parental Guidance.

Estimated Top 10 North America Dec 21-23 2012
Film (Dist) / Est wkd gross / Est total to date

1 (1) The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Warner Bros-New Line/MGM) WBPI $36.7m $149.9m

2 (-) Jack Reacher (Paramount) PPI $15.6m –

3 (-) This Is 40 (Universal) UPI $12m –

4 (2) Rise Of The Guardians (Paramount-DWks Animation) PPI $5.9m $79.7m

5 (3) Lincoln (DWks-Buena Vista) Fox Int’l $5.6m $116.8m

6 (-) The Guilt Trip (Paramount) PPI $5.4m $7.4m

7 (-) Monsters, Inc (3D) (Buena Vista) WDSMPI $5m $6.5m

8 (4) Skyfall (Sony/MGM/Eon) SPRI/MGM $4.7m $279.9m

9 (5) Life Of Pi (Fox) Fox Int’l $3.8m $76.2m

10 (6) The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (Summit-Lionsgate) Summit/Lionsgate Int’l $2.6m $281.6m