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    Avatar's Titanic—and Transformers Could Be Sunk

    Sam Worthington, Avatar 20th Century Fox

    Not so fast, Transformers.

    2009's over, but the year-end box-office standings are still being written and rewritten, thanks to James Cameron's Avatar, which took in another $68.3 million this weekend and could end up going down as last year's No. 1 movie.

    "This is unbelievable," Hollywood.com box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian said today.

    After just 17 days in theaters, Avatar has grossed $352.1 million domestically. Worldwide, it has blown past $1 billion, not to mention The Dark Knight, to stand tall as the fourth-biggest moneymaker ever. Already.

    Did somebody say Titanic?

    Fox, the studio behind the Cameron adventure, most assuredly did not.

    "I'll tell you this, though," Fox exec Bert Livingston said today, "I believe this movie is getting the best word of mouth ever."

    It's also got some of the best legs ever. The movie's third weekend was nearly as strong as its second weekend, which was very nearly as big as its first weekend.

    "Films just don't have legs anymore," Dergarabedian said. "Avatar has major major legs."

    And that's why Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen's box-office crown could be in play.

    Because it was released in 2009, Avatar is considered a 2009 film by stat-keepers like Dergarabedian, and all of its ticket sales, regardless of how many are made in 2010, will go down on the 2009 books.

    By that math, Avatar is now the No. 2 movie of 2009, having jumped over New Moon, Up and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince this weekend. At the white-hot rate it's going, Avatar would surpass Revenge of the Fallen's $402 million mark by next weekend. 

    Did somebody say Titanic?

    Degarabedian didn't. He said it's too early to tell if Cameron's new epic will surpass the filmmaker's last epic, even if Avatar is just $250 million shy now of Titanic's all-time domestic gross.

    "No film has done it yet," Dergarabedian reminded. "It may take a James Cameron to beat a James Cameron."

    Or a ginormous Transformers sequel.

    Here's a rundown of all of the weekend's top-grossing films. The standings, based on Friday-Sunday estimates as compiled by Exhibitor Relations, are almost unchanged from last weekend:

    1. Avatar, $68.3 million
    2. Sherlock Holmes, $38.4 million
    3. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, $36.6 million
    4. It's Complicated, $18.7 million
    5. The Blind Side, $12.7 million
    6. Up in the Air, $11.4 million
    7. The Princess and the Frog, $10 million
    8. Did You Hear About the Morgans?, $5 million
    9. Nine, $4.3 million 
    10.  Invictus, $4.1 million

    ___________

    Avatar's not the only hot film out there. Catch all the latest flicks in our Totally New Releases gallery!

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