‘Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug’ Opens No. 1 in First Nine Foreign Markets

France leads way as Peter Jackson’s epic sequel brings in $8.5 million in its first day, a little ahead of “Unexpected Journey”

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” opened at No. 1 in all nine overseas markets in which it debuted on Wednesday, Warner Bros. reported Thursday.

It took in $8.5 million, three percent better than the first film in Peter Jackson’s trilogy, “An Unexpected Journey,” did in its first rollouts last year.

France was the top market, as “Smaug” brought in $2.8 million, topping the debut of “Unexpected Journey” by eight percent.

Also read: ‘Hobbit’ Sequel Will Outpace the First at Overseas Box Office – And That’s Saying Plenty

“The Desolation of Smaug” rolls out Friday in 3,903 U.S. theaters, with midnight screenings in roughly 3,000 theaters.

It will also be on screens in 49 foreign markets this weekend, a handful fewer than “Journey” was in its first weekend last year. The studio has delayed the Latin America release of “Smaug” until closer to the Christmas holidays and the movie won’t hit Japan until February. A China date is pending until 2014.

Still, the film’s overseas grosses are widely expected to top the massive $700 million total of the first.