(Reuters) - The big-budget "Hobbit" fantasy movie ruled movie box office charts for a second straight weekend, fending off Hollywood heavyweight Tom Cruise in new crime drama "Jack Reacher."
"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" hauled in nearly $37 million from theaters in the United States and Canada, according to studio estimates of Friday-through-Sunday ticket sales. The film is the first of three movies based on the classic J.R.R. Tolkien novel about a world of dwarfs, elves and dragons in the fictitious Middle Earth.
In second place, Cruise's "Jack Reacher" about the investigation into a sniper shooting brought in just short of $17 million at U.S. and Canadian theaters. Distributor Paramount Pictures postponed a premiere of the film after the fatal school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, sparked new scrutiny of violent movies.
Adult comedy "This is 40," starring Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann as a middle-aged couple, brought in $12 million, finishing in third place.
"The Hobbit" was distributed by Time Warner Inc's Warner Bros. studio. Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc, released "Jack Reacher." Comcast Corp's Universal Pictures distributed "This is 40."
(Reporting By Lisa Richwine and Andrea Burzynski)