London - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey took $223m worldwide on its opening weekend.
The film - which stars Martin Freeman in the title role - made the highest-ever gross for a movie opening in the US in December, taking $84.8m, with the additional $138.2m coming from 56 worldwide territories.
Outside of America, the highest gross came in the UK, with $18.3m, and Germany, with $16.3m.
While the figure - which saw 49% of takings come through 3D sales - was lower than anticipated, studio bosses were still delighted.
'Inspired passionate fans'
Warner domestic distribution president Dan Fellman told Variety: "To accomplish this kind of opening with a big chunk of our audience (i.e., students) unable to go Friday is remarkable.
"It sets us up nicely for those glorious Christmas holiday weekdays."
Veronika Kwan Vandenberg, president of international distribution at Warner, added: "This incredible journey has inspired passionate fans around the world, who could not wait to return to Middle-earth, this time with Bilbo, Gandalf and the dwarves.
"These impressive results speak to the universal appeal of this story."
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey enjoyed the second-biggest ever opening for December globally, behind only Avatar, which took $242.5m worldwide in 2009.
The movie has yet to open in some major territories, including Russia, Australia and China.