The latest Lord of the Rings movie had a strong debut at the international box office on Wednesday, raking in US $12.2 million.

Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opened in 16 countries, making $4.3 million in France and $2 million in Germany, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The movie is expected to earn about $75 million to $90 million domestically in its opening weekend.

Jackson’s first three movies, released between 2001 and 2003, have grossed nearly $3 billion at the global box office and won 17 Oscars.

The Hobbit is the first movie in a second planned trilogy. It takes place 60 years before the events in The Lord of the Rings.

It explores the journey of hobbit Bilbo Baggins and how he came to possess the ring that he later passed onto his kinsman, Frodo Baggins.
         
The three films are based on novelist J. R. R. Tolkien’s epic fantasy The Hobbit and are a prequel to the storyline in the Lord of the Rings series. To date, the trilogy of Rings books has sold more than 150 million copies around the world.

Jackson plans to release one installment annually through to the summer of 2014.

With files from Reuters