Box Office Mojo is listing The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey as having passed the $1 billion mark worldwide, having earned $301 million in the United States and an estimated $700 million overseas. It was The Hobbit’s success in China (grossing $37.3 million in 10 days) that pushed it over the top.
I predict that The Desolation of Smaug will beat An Unexpected Journey’s final number by at least a hundred million. AUJ hit the right notes of whimsy, drama and LOTR nostalgia more often than not, and the upcoming blu-ray/dvd release will further grow the audience for the sequel. The second film’s gross will also be bolstered by an increased spectacle factor thanks to the showcasing of WETA’s Smaug, who will surely take his place alongside Gollum, King Kong, and the Na’vi as a groundbreaking achievement in character creation / visual effects.