Box Office Guru Wrapup: Avatar Takes Sixth Consecutive Weekend

James Cameron’s latest juggernaut Avatar became the first film since the director’s own Titanic to rule the number one spot for six straight weekends as it once again steamrolled over the competition topping the charts by a wide margin. Three new films without 3D trips into outer space opened to mixed results with the thriller Legion leading the way in second place with a solid showing. The family comedy The Tooth Fairy saw mild business in fourth while moviegoers ignored the drama Extraordinary Measures which landed in seventh. Films with major Golden Globe wins all witnessed small declines.


There was no stopping Avatar which slipped a remarkably low 16% in its sixth frame and grossed an estimated $36M to remain atop the North American box office. After only 38 days of release, the Fox smash catapulted its total domestic gross to an eye-popping $552.8M and on Saturday surpassed The Dark Knight to seize the number two spot on the list of top-grossing domestic blockbusters of all-time. It now trails Titanic‘s $600.8M by a mere $48M and will break the 12-year-old record next week with ease. Avatar also set a new record for best gross in the sixth weekend of any film’s release beating the iceberg pic’s $25.2M from this very frame in 1998. The Pandora hit has grossed north of $35M in each of its six weekends – another industry first.

In the world of actual tickets sold, Avatar trails numerous films from the past like 1990’s Home Alone, 1994’s Forrest Gump, and 2002’s Spider-Man. But in the world of grosses – the actual dollar amounts that participating production, distribution, and exhibition companies will be dividing up and stuffing their pockets with – the Na’vi hit is now in the same league that Titanic‘s strength has been powered in part by Saturday surges. The Golden Globe winner for Best Picture – Drama took in $9.1M on Friday, soared by 81% to $16.5M on Saturday, and is estimated to dip 37% to $10.4M on Sunday. 3D and IMAX screens are also at the center of the public fascination with the film as people are continuing to pay extra for this next-generation moviegoing experience. At Avatar‘s current pace, reaching the $700M domestic barrier cannot be ruled out.

The Cameron megahit is still a durable smash overseas as international audiences have not had enough. The overseas tally hit an estimated $107M this weekend, off a slim 14%, boosting the international haul to a staggering $1.288 billion beating Titanic‘s record of $1.242 billion. The global gross now stands at a jaw-dropping $1.841 billion for Avatar putting it a mere $2M behind the long-standing record of $1.843 billion set in 1998. Avatar will have no problem crashing through the $2 billion worldwide mark in the coming weeks as it topples all of Titanic’s major box office records.


In the weekly battle to be the top non-Avatar film, Sony scored a hit with its supernatural thriller Legion which debuted to an estimated $18.2M from 2,476 theaters for a strong $7,351 average. The R-rated effects film starring Paul Bettany, Tyrese Gibson, and Dennis Quaid played to young men done with Pandora. Studio research showed that 58% of the audience was male and 54% was over 25. Legion cost $25-30M to produce.

Denzel Washington’s apocalyptic thriller The Book of Eli dropped a moderate 48% to an estimated $17M and placed third this weekend. After ten days, the R-rated actioner has taken in a solid $62M for Warner Bros. and has a chance at becoming the Oscar-winning actor’s fourth career $100M+ hit.


The Rock generated mild results for his latest entry into the family film market The Tooth Fairy which bowed to an estimated $14.5M from 3,344 sites for a mediocre $4,336 average. Dwayne Johnson’s PG-rated tale of a hockey superstar that becomes, yes, a tooth fairy played mostly to kids and parents. Reviews were bad, but probably had little impact.

Off 48% in its second weekend of wide play, Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones dropped to fifth with an estimated $8.8M lifting the total to $31.6M. Paramount might end up with around $50M which didn’t seem possible just two weeks ago. Sherlock Holmes held strong easing only 28% to an estimated $7.1M in its fifth frame. The Warner Bros. hit has banked $191.6M and next week will become the tenth film from 2009 to break the $200M hurdle.


Brendan Fraser and Harrison Ford failed to excite adult audiences with their new drama Extraordinary Measures which opened in seventh with only $7M, according to estimates. The first release from CBS Films averaged a weak $2,746 from 2,549 locations and played best in the midwest, southeast and mountain areas. The PG-rated film drew poor reviews which had an impact on the older-skewing audience.


With Fox’s own Tooth Fairy taking away kids looking for goofy comedy, the studio’s smash Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel fell 44% to an estimated $6.5M for eighth place. But the runaway hit did break the double century mark this weekend pushing its total to $204.2M.

Universal’s adult comedy It’s Complicated still held up well dipping only 24% in its fifth round to an estimated $6.2M boosting the total to $98.7M. Look for the Meryl Streep pic to break the $100M mark by the end of the week. Jackie Chan rounded out the top ten with his kidpic The Spy Next Door which fell a troubling 51% in its second weekend to an estimated $4.8M. Lionsgate has grossed only $18.7M in ten days and should finish with $27-29M. Chan will try to attract a larger audience this summer when he stars in the China-set remake of The Karate Kid opposite Will Smith’s son Jaden.

The top ten films grossed $126.1M which was up 6% from last year when Paul Blart: Mall Cop opened in the top spot with $21.6M; and up 16% from 2007 when Meet the Spartans debuted at number one with $18.5M.

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