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‘Anchorman 2′ first on Friday with $8.7M but epic ‘Hobbit’ will win weekend

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Paul Rudd is Brian Fantana, Will Ferrell is Ron Burgundy, David Koechner is Champ Kind and Steve Carell is Brick Tamland in a scene from "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues." (Associated Press)

It turns out Paramount was rather shrewd for opening “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” on Wednesday. At least it got a few days at number one before being trampled by “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”

The Will Ferrell comedy took first Friday, but only by a hair, earning $8.7 million to the “Hobbit” sequel’s $8.6 million. The comedy sequel is looking at a three-day haul of $26 million to the “Hobbit’s” $30 million-plus second frame.

In its first five days in theaters, “Anchorman 2″ is projected to earn nearly $40 million, right in the center of pre-weekend expectations. PG-13 rated Ron Burgundy can also look forward to long legs through the holiday season as teens who are off from school and their families look for light-hearted fare.

On Friday, Warner Bros.’ “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” crossed both the $300 million worldwide milestone and the $100 million mark domestically.

Sony-Columbia Pictures expanded “American Hustle” this frame for $6.3 million and third place Friday. A strong start in wide release and now looking as though it will overperform and hit $20 million this weekend, the period piece is still expected to slip to fourth by Monday.

Fox released 3D toon “Walking with Dinosaurs” Friday to $2.1 million, putting it in eighth place well behind its family-skewing competition, Disney tuner “Frozen,” which earned $5.1 million for fourth. “Frozen” has raked in $177.5 million in five weeks.

Another Disney offering, this time live action, isn’t doing quite as well. “Saving Mr. Banks” expands wide this frame, but now appears it won’t even break into double digits as previously expected. It earned $3 million Friday.

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