Top Ten December Movie Blockbusters

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The second of three epic fantasy adventure films directed, co-written and produced by Peter Jackson and based on J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy novel of the same name. The plot picks up just as the Dwarfs, Bilbo and Gandalf have successfully crossed over the misty mountains. Bilbo has in his possession the one ring, but now the group must continue their journey to get their gold back from the Dragon.
Photo Credit: Warner Bros.
December 2nd, 2013

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Top Ten December Movie Blockbusters

Any film fan knows that certain times of the year cater to movie lovers. The late spring and summer are usually the times of high-budget films that star the youngest and hottest action heroes. October is the month for horror films, and throughout the latter half of the year, studios release those films they hope will garner the attention of the Academy. December, however, has become a particularly lucrative target for many filmmakers, who release their epic pictures late in the year to take advantage of the holiday season. Some of the films released in December went on to earn substantial amounts of money at the domestic box office.

10. "Night at the Museum"
Released on December 22, 2006, "Night at the Museum" was a Ben Stiller vehicle based on a popular children's book. The night watchman at a history museum discovers that the exhibits come alive at night, leading to utter chaos. The film made a modest $30 million on the opening weekend but went on to gross more than $250 million domestically.

9. "I Am Legend"
Based on the iconic Richard Matheson vampire novel of the same name, Will Smith's blockbuster hit screens on December 14, 2007. After an impressive $77 million opening weekend, "I Am Legend" reached a total of $256 million in domestic receipts.

8. "Meet the Fockers"
The sequel to 2000's "Meet the Parents," "Meet the Fockers" was released on December 22, 2004, to a $46 million opening weekend. The Ben Stiller vehicle had staying power, however, topping out with $279 million at the domestic box office.

7. "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe"
The adaptation of the first entry in C.S. Lewis's "Chronicles of Narnia" series, "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" opened on December 9, 2005, to a $65 million weekend. Overall, the film took $291 million domestically and proved a powerful earner in the international market as well.

6. "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"
"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is the first entry in director Peter Jackson three-film adaptation of Tolkien's introductory work released on December 14, 2012. With an $84 million opening weekend and a $303 million domestic gross, it underperformed his "Lord of the Rings" trilogy but still maintained a very respectable box-office take.

5. "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring"
December 19, 2001, saw the first entry in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, "The Fellowship of the Ring," which was received with significant acclaim and enthusiasm by audiences. The production had spared very little expense, producing a breathtakingly beautiful interpretation of Tolkien's signature work. The film earned $47 million in its opening weekend and went on to reach $313 million in total domestic receipts.

4. "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers"
The following year saw "The Two Towers" hit screens on December 18, and fan enthusiasm for the series had not waned one bit. After a $62 million initial take, the sophomore entry in the trilogy reached $339 million domestically, in part due to the release of an extended edition of the first film on DVD to drive fan interest even higher.

3. "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King"
Unsurprisingly, Peter Jackson's third "Lord of the Rings" film, "The Return of the King," did even better in theaters as it closed out the tale of the heroes of Middle-earth. Released on December 17, 2003, to a $72 million weekend, the film reached a total of $377 million before leaving domestic theaters.

2. "Titanic"
On December 19, 1997, James Cameron's "Titanic" was released to swooning audiences nationwide. Buoyed by a memorable—and omnipresent—theme song by Celine Dion and a memorable performance by Leonardo DiCaprio, the big-budget blockbuster took in only $28 million on its first weekend. Word of mouth and lots of return business helped keep the movie in theaters for an extended run, ultimately earning more than $600 million in domestic receipts.

1. "Avatar"
It should be unsurprising that the man behind the second greatest December blockbuster also had a hand in the winner. On December 18, 2009, James Cameron's epic sci-fi action movie "Avatar" opened to a $77 million weekend. The tale of alien warfare and moral dilemmas proved very popular with fans, who flocked to the 3-D showings of the film in record numbers. "Avatar" took in an impressive $749 million domestically, making it the top-grossing American film of all time. Avatar also proved a powerful draw for international audiences, topping the international records as well with over $2.7 billion at the worldwide box office.