Avatar Just Won't Quit!

James Cameron epic scores fourth straight box-office win, takes Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen's crown as top 2009 movie

By Joal Ryan Jan 11, 2010 9:25 PMTags
Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington, AvatarWETA/ 20th Century Fox

UPDATE: Final figures released Monday show Avatar actually broke $50 million over the weekend. The movie's overall domestic take stands at $430.8 million. And counting. And counting. And…  


So where is this going to end?

For the fourth straight weekend, Avatar was the top movie at the box office, Sunday estimates show. Its $48.5 million helped it take Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen's crown as 2009's biggest moneymaker.

The world's No. 2 movie of all-time as of last week, the James Cameron epic used the weekend to pass Spider-Man and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest on the domestic list, and set itself up to rise to No. 3 in those rankings perhaps as soon as next weekend. (Bye, Star Wars, E.T. and friends…) 

So, no, Leap Year never really had a chance. Titanic, however, does.

Even at the fantastic rate Avatar is raking in the bucks overseas—it's worldwide haul stands at about $1.3 billion now—the film is still a long $500 million away from matching the No. 1 movie of No. 1 movies (also made by Cameron, natch).

Titanic's all-time domestic mark may be even safer than its worldwide one.

Avatar's $429 overall stateside gross puts it $171 million away from Titanic's domestic record of $600 million. And while that may not seem like much to a 3-D-powered monster, consider that even The Dark Knight got tired after breaking $500 million.

Of course, getting tired is something that Avatar, like Titanic before it, seems incapable of. In its first three weekends, ticket sales basically held even; this weekend, business was only off 30 percent. All this, and Oscar nominations aren't even out yet.

Elsewhere this weekend:

Daybreakers did nothing to dispell the whole vampires-are-hot theme. The $21 million movie debuted in fourth with a solid $15 million.

Sherlock Holmes (second place, $16.6 million) continued to do its weird thing of topping Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (third place, $16.3 million) in the weekend standings, but not in overall gross. Domestically, Squeakquel's at $178.2 million; Sherlock's at $165.2 million.

It's Complicated (fifth place, $11 million; $76.4 million overall) is the Avatar of middle-aged-women movies—just hanging in there, weekend after weekend. 

• Amy Adams' Leap Year (sixth place, $9.2 million) was no Bride Wars.

Even considering a budget of only $18 million, Michael Cera's Youth in Revolt (ninth place, $7 million) didn't blow the roof off the place.

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

  1. Avatar, $48.5 million
  2. Sherlock Holmes, $16.6 million
  3. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, $16.3 million
  4. Daybreakers, $15 million
  5. It's Complicated, $11 million
  6. Leap Year, $9.2 million
  7. The Blind Side, $7.8 million
  8. Up in the Air, $7.1 million
  9. Youth in Revolt, $7 million
  10. The Princess and the Frog, $4.7 million

(Originally published Jan. 10, 2010, at 11:05 a.m. PT)


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