Peter Jackson’s ‘‘The Hobbit’’ led the box office with a haul of $84.8 million, a record-setting opening better than the three previous ‘‘Lord of the Rings’’ films. The Warner Bros. Middle-earth epic was the biggest December opening ever, surpassing Will Smith’s ‘‘I Am Legend,’’ which opened with $77.2 million in 2007, according to studio estimates Sunday. ‘‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’’ also passed the December opening of ‘‘Avatar,’’ which opened with $77 million. Internationally, ‘‘The Hobbit’’ also added $138.2 million, for an impressive debut well north of $200 million. Despite weak reviews, the 3-D adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s first novel in the fantasy series was an even bigger draw than the last ‘‘Lord of the Rings’’ movie, ‘‘The Return of the King.’’ That film opened with $72.6 million.
Stones end on high note
Only at a Rolling Stones concert could appearances by Bruce Springsteen and Lady Gaga seem almost like afterthoughts. Those superstars and other top acts including the Black Keys and John Mayer jammed with the Stones on Saturday night, winding down a series of concerts celebrating the 50th year of rock’s most enduring band (the occasion was also marked by a pay-per-view special). The Boss rocked out with the band on ‘‘Tumbling Dice,” Gaga matched Mick Jagger shimmy-for-shimmy on ‘‘Gimme Shelter,” the Black Keys joined on ‘‘Who Do You Love,’’ and John Mayer and Gary Clark Jr. showed their considerable guitar chops alongside Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood on ‘‘Goin’ Down.’’
Adieu for Depardieu
A French newspaper is quoting actor Gerard Depardieu as saying he is turning in his passport after insults from France’s Socialist prime minister for taking up residence in tax-friendly Belgium. The Sunday weekly Le Journal du Dimanche published an open letter attributed to Depardieu in which the actor chides Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault for calling him ‘‘pathetic’’ and ‘‘unpatriotic’’ last week for moving to Belgium to escape French taxes. ‘‘I leave after paying 85 percent of my revenue in 2012,’’ the letter says. ‘‘I turn into you my passport and [my] social security card, which I have never used.’’ Depardieu, who turns 64 this month, has made more than 100 films. The Belgian village of Nechin — his new home — has drawn other high-earning French residents.
Kate out in public
The pregnant Duchess of Cambridge made her first public appearance Sunday night since her hospitalization for acute morning sickness. Looking healthy and strong, the former Kate Middleton presented awards in London at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year prizes, which were broadcast throughout Britain. She had not been seen in public since leaving King Edward VII Hospital in London on Dec. 6. At the time, officials said the duchess would be resting. Palace officials have said the duchess is in the first 12 weeks of her pregnancy.
“I wanted y’all to know!! Happiest night of my life last night! I am so lucky and am with the greatest man ever.” - Kelly Clarkson, on Twitter, announcing her engagement to Reba McEntire’s stepson, Brandon Blackstock.