The Hobbit tops box office

'Anchorman 2', which opened on Wednesday, came second with $26.8 million.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Picture: Facebook.

LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK - The dwarves and hobbits of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug proved too much for the much-publicised sequel Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, as the hit fantasy film topped movie charts in the United States and Canada for a second straight week, earning $31.5 million over the weekend.

Kicking off Hollywood's year-end push of high-profile movie releases, the Anchorman crew led by Will Ferrell was unable to dethrone last week's winner and took in $26.8 million for the No. 2 spot, according to sales estimates from Rentrak.

Oscar-contending crime drama American Hustle grabbed the No. 4 slot, racking up $19.1 million, just behind Disney's animated hit, Frozen which took in $19.2 million.

Anchorman opened on Wednesday following a months-long marketing onslaught and rang up a five-day total of $40 million through Sunday.

Ferrell appeared in character seemingly everywhere as the self-important Ron Burgundy, pitching the Dodge Durango in TV ads, interviewing Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning for ESPN The Magazine and co-anchoring a local newscast in Nebraska.

The campaign reintroduced Burgundy a decade after the original Anchorman in 2004.

The first film took in a solid $90 million at worldwide box offices and gained popularity on DVD to become a cult classic.

In the sequel, the former San Diego anchor joins a cable news channel startup in 1980s New York. Paul Rudd, Steve Carell and David Koechner return as members of his wacky news team.

Box office forecasters predicted Anchorman 2 would bring in $35 million to $40 million from Friday through Sunday. The movie cost $50 million to make.

Jeff Bock, senior box office analyst for Exhibitor Relations Co said the sequel was "already creating newsworthy grosses abroad, debuting with $13.4 million in just six territories.

The performance of Anchorman and other holiday releases will decide if Hollywood reaches a ticket sales record this year.

Through Sunday, total grosses for 2013 has risen 0.8 percent from a year earlier to nearly $10.37 billion, according to Rentrak. The record for total box office sales was $10.77 billion, set in 2012.

On Christmas Day, studios will release five films including the Leonardo DiCaprio drama, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Ben Stiller's comedy, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

This weekend, the 3D Hobbit sequel brought its worldwide total to $404 million, distributor Warner Bros. said.

American Hustle expanded nationwide after a limited opening and stellar reviews for its ensemble cast of Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence.

The movie, produced by Sony Corp's movie studio for $40 million, is loosely based on a real-life 1970s bribery scandal that led to the conviction of seven members of the US Congress and several local and federal officials.

Walt Disney Co's animated musical Frozen features the voice of Kristen Bell as a Scandinavian princess in a story inspired by The Snow Queen fairy tale.

Another Disney film, the critically praised live-action drama Saving Mr. Banks, finished in fifth place during its first weekend of nationwide release, taking in $9.3 million.

The $35 million production tells the story of how Walt Disney brought children's book Mary Poppins to the big screen, with Tom Hanks as Disney and Emma Thompson as author P.L. Travers, who resisted the movie idea for two decades.

Animated Walking with Dinosaurs managed only No. 8 with $7.3 million at domestic theatres. The $80 million movie distributed by 20th Century Fox tells the story of an underdog dinosaur who becomes a hero.

The No. 9 spot was grabbed by a surprisingly strong start from Indian film Dhoom 3, which opened in only 236 locations and took in $3.3 million to become the biggest US opening of a Bollywood film.