Weekend Box Office – AVATAR Rings Up Another $48.5 Million

     January 10, 2010

Avatar movie image slice.jpg

For the first time since The Dark Knight patrolled the multiplex 18 months ago, a feature film has managed to stay at number one for four consecutive weeks. As expected, James Cameron’s Avatar took no notice of 2010’s new arrivals, remaining the event movie of the year… both of them.

Title Weekend Total
1 Avatar $48,500,000 $429
2 Sherlock Holmes $16,600,000 $165.1
3 Alvin & the Chipmunks 2 $16,300,000 $178.1
4 Daybreakers $15,000,000 $15
5 It’s Complicated $11,000,000 $76.3
6 Leap Year $9,200,000 $9.2
7 The Blind Side $7,750,000 $219.1
8 Up in the Air $7,100,000 $54.7
9 Youth in Revolt $7,000,000 $7
10 Princess & the Frog $4,700,000 $92.6

avatar_movie_image_sam_worthington_01.jpgWith this weekend’s estimates coming in at $48.5 million, Avatar has now claimed another title: Most Successful Movie of 2009. The movie’s new domestic total of $429 million puts it way ahead of the summer’s biggest blockbuster, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which topped out at $402 million. Along with becoming the second-highest grossing movie of all-time, worldwide, Avatar is now ranked seventh on the all-time domestic chart… and there are still lots of days left in its theatrical run.

So, with all of the game-changing, record-breaking hysteria over Avatar these past four weeks, I haven’t really had a chance to give two other blockbuster features their due. Allow me to change that today.

sherlock_holmes_movie_image_robert_downey_jr.jpgIt’s hard to settle for second place when you have made over $250 million worldwide since Christmas, but such has been the lot of Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes. Incidentally, though it’s the consummate second fiddle to Avatar, Holmes does hold an interesting record of its very own. It is second only to The Day After Tomorrow on the list of films with the biggest non-number one opening weekends. Not exactly something you want to put on a poster, but there it is.

Number four on that same list of big non-number one’s is Fox’s ‘secret weapon’ – Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. It’s a film many adults overlooked but it has stayed neck and neck with Sherlock Holmes for the past three weeks. God love kids and their awful, awful taste! Because Alvin 2 launched the Wednesday before Christmas it is actually a bit ahead of Holmes in domestic totals and, most surprising of all, in foreign grosses as well – $105 to $86 million. And you thought tastes were more refined overseas?

Daybreakers Teaser movie Poster.jpgAt this time last year a little sleeper called Paul Blart came out of nowhere on its way to $146 million in revenue. No such luck for the new titles of 2010, I’m afraid. Of the three films that ushered in the New Year, Lionsgate’s Daybreakers is off to the best start with an estimated first weekend of $15 million from 2,523 theatres. In another January that would have been good enough for at least second place, but with Avatar and that Christmas lot still showing strength, the vampire fable could only score a fourth place finish.

Which was still better than Universal’s romantic comedy Leap Year. Universal was the big loser of 2009 and, with a Rotten Tomato score of only 17% for Leap Year, 2010 isn’t starting off very auspiciously for the studio either. From 2,511 locations, the Amy Adam’s starrer brought in only an estimated $9.2 million.

The fourth new title of the week, Youth in Revolt, opened in a more modest 1,873 theatres. The adaptation of the beloved novel by C.D. Payne earned an estimated $7 million or $3,737 per-screen. As a Weinstein/Dimension release (read: marketing budget limited) this was a disappointment. On the bright side, my guess is that, like the novel, Youth in Revolt is on the fast-track to becoming a “cult classic.” In the absence of first-run revenue, that at least guarantees an active secondary life on DVD and cable. I’m sure they’ll take it.

Next week provides the first test to the Avatar death-grip on the top of the box office: the release of the apocalyptic Book of Eli. The film looks pretty bleak and Denzel’s stock has been down a bit in recent years so I’ guessing that Fox’s big, blue juggernaut will make it five in a row. Hyperbole and history should still be able to trump novelty for moviegoers.  At least for one more week…


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