(E ONLINE) — The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey came away with an estimated $84.8 million at the weekend box office, its studio reported, the largest-ever Friday-Sunday debut for a December release, including James Cameron’s all-time champ, Avatar.

If Peter Jackson’s latest J.R.R. Tolkien adventure take wasn’t bigger, as some had projected, then there were a couple of possible mitigating factors—one of which wasn’t the Jackson-championed high-frame-rate format.

Theaters screening the film in HFR, as the format was billed, posted the The Hobbit’s best numbers, Warner Bros. exec Dan Fellman said Sunday.

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