Peter Jackson's return to Middle-earth will spend Christmas as the UK's number one movie after holding off competition from Ang Lee's Life of Pi.
The Hobbit earns £5.9 million from its 601 nationwide locations against Life of Pi's £3.6 million haul. Rise of the Guardians and Nativity 2 both drop a place from last week's placings to occupy the number three and four spots respectively.
Skyfall falls down two places to number six, passing the £99 million mark on its ninth week on release. The latest James Bond outing is expected to be the first film to pass £100 million in the UK in the next few weeks.
Elsewhere, Bollywood release Dabangg 2 pulls in £341,619 to land at number eight.
The UK box office top ten in full:
1. (1) The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - £5,979,241
2. (-) Life of Pi - £3,610,604
3. (2) Rise of the Guardians - £1,221,504
4. (3) Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger - £1,188,380
5. (-) Pitch Perfect - £952,107
6. (4) Skyfall - £554,958
7. (5) Tinker Bell and the Secret of the Wings - £469,630
8. (-) Dabangg 2 - £341,619
9. (6) The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 - £167,952
10. (7) Seven Psychopaths - £167,952
Watch Martin Freeman talk to Digital Spy about The Hobbit below: