In a remarkably tight race, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug held onto its gold at the box office this weekend, earning $29.9 million over the three-day frame and taking the top spot. The fantasy epic’s domestic total is now $190.3 million after three weeks, a robust number that still trails last year’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which had already earned $221.6 million at the 17-day mark. Peter Jackson’s earlier Tolkien epic, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, had made a princely $290.4 million by its third weekend in 2003, headed toward a final gross of $377.8 in the states and $1.119 billion worldwide. Smaug looks likely to end up below Unexpected Journey‘s total haul of $303 million, whereas each of the Lord of the Rings films managed to outgross its predecessor. The Hobbit: There and Back Again, the trilogy’s final film, is slated for release on Dec. 17, 2014.
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