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Dwarves, dragon and a 'Hobbit' dominate box office

LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK, Dec 15 (Reuters) - A small hobbit racked up big sales at movie box offices over the weekend, generating an estimated $73.7 million at U.S. and Canadian theaters with the highly anticipated sequel "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug."

The second installment in "The Hobbit" film trilogy easily beat competitors to land at the top of weekend movie charts.

Walt Disney Co's animated musical "Frozen" finished second, earning $22.2 million and beating new comedy "Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas" which took the No. 3 spot with $16 million, according to studio estimates from Rentrak.

Fans turned out in force for the second of three "Hobbit" movies based on the 1937 classic J.R.R. Tolkien novel set in the fantasy world of Middle Earth. The film follows hobbit Bilbo Baggins and a band of 13 dwarves on their epic and treacherous quest, which leads them to a clash with the fire-breathing dragon, Smaug.

In "Madea's Christmas," comedian Perry returns to his crowd-pleasing role as a wise-cracking grandmother. This time, Madea is coaxed into visiting a small rural town where she meets an Alabama father played by Larry the Cable Guy.

"Frozen" features the voice of Kristen Bell as a Scandinavian princess on a search for her sister in a story inspired by "The Snow Queen" fairy tale.

Warner Bros., a unit of Time Warner Inc, distributed "The Hobbit." Lions Gate Entertainment Corp released "Madea's Christmas."