Avatar Overshadows, Overpowers Mel Gibson

    Avatar, Mel Gibson, Edge of Darkness ILM / Twentieth Century Fox; Warner Bros. Pictures

    Is there nothing, or no one who can challenge Avatar? Well, other than Porky's?

    James Cameron's box-office streamroller flattened the returning Mel Gibson to claim its seventh straight box-office win. One more, and it'll tie three other films, including the aforementioned Porky's, for the sixth-longest stay at No. 1.

    Avatar grossed an estimated $30 million Friday-Sunday, and handily led Gibson's Edge of Darkness ($17.1 million) and Kristen Bell's When in Rome ($12.5 million). More details:

    Already the worldwide box-office champ, Avatar inched—well, yard-ed—ever closer to Titanic's domestic record. Cameron's new movie stands at $594.5 million; his old movie towers, for now, at $600.9 million.

    At the rate it's going, look for Avatar to take Titanic's domestic record by as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday.

    If Avatar ties and passes Porky's, et. al, it'll still have a ways to go match the longest box-office winning streaks: 15 straight weekends, held by, yes, Titanic; and, 16 overall weekends, held by E.T.

    For those who continue to insist Avatar's success is a figment of IMAX prices, two remarkable things: (1) the movie is playing like movies of this era are not supposed to play—roughly the same number of people make the pilgrimage to see it week in, week out; and, (2) even on Box Office Mojo's handy adjusted-for-inflation chart, it is the highest-grossing movie of the 2000s, and the sixth highest-grossing movie of the VHS/DVD era, which we're going to arbitrarily declare as anything released in 1982 or after.

    Mel Gibson hasn't starred in a movie for so long, it's impossible to compare Edge of Darkness to his past openers. Maybe a better model is Denzel Washington's The Book of Eli, an R-rated drama starring a man too old to play a father on the CW, which, oh, by the way, bowed way bigger last month.

    If you compare When in Rome to Leap Year, then When in Rome looks huge. 

    In their second weekends, The Tooth Fairy ($10 million) held well, but needed to hold a while longer to match its $48 million budget; Legion ($6.8 million) fell fast, but topped its $25 million budget.

    Brendan Fraser's and Harrison Ford's Extraordinary Measures ($2.6 million; $10.4 million) dropped out of the Top 10 after a one-weekend stay.

    • Robert Downey Jr.'s Sherlock Holmes ($4.5 million) moved in on $200 million domestically.

    Here's a rundown of the weekend's top-grossing films, per estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:

    1. Avatar, $30 million
    2. Edge of Darkness, $17.1 million
    3. When in Rome, $12.1 million
    4. The Tooth Fairy, $10 million
    5. The Book of Eli, $8.8 million
    6. Legion, $6.8 million
    7. The Lovely Bones, $4.7 million
    8. Sherlock Holmes, $4.5 million
    9. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, $4 million
    10. It's Complicated, $3.7 million

     (Originally published Jan. 31, 2010, at 8:47 a.m. PT)


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