Weekend Forecast for January 1-3, 2010

By Reagen Sulewski

January 1, 2010

Why am I always having to play the jerk in movies lately?

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The box office dials up a repeat for the first weekend of 2010, with no new films in release. But even without any new films, after a record-breaking Christmas weekend, we're set for another weekend of unprecedented earnings.

The record was not just for the weekend itself, somewhere over $260 million, but also for Avatar, which had the largest ever second weekend for a film, just edging out The Dark Knight with $75.6 million. James Cameron's bold attempt to change cinema has proven to be a resounding hit, with over $650 million in worldwide boxoffice, and $250 million of that in North America.

In fact, it's almost proving to be a repeat of Cameron's last filmic opus, Titanic, which also showed astounding legs over Christmas on its way to rewriting the box office charts. While it's kind of unlikely that Avatar can spend six straight months in the top ten, or even two, it's well on its way to etching its name into the books as one of the top performers of all time. Historically, New Year's Day weekend shows only a small dropoff from Christmas, and with the astounding word-of-mouth and the 3-D effect, Avatar looks set to easily have the largest ever third weekend with $60 million.

Avatar's stunning performance stole the thunder away from Sherlock Holmes, which had a strong if not spectacular $65 million opening. That's a pretty good number for a hoped-for franchise-starter with this kind of star power though the film's been met with a response of "well, that was okay, I guess, but it could have been better". That's not good enough when you're competing against the rapturous audience response of Avatar, though we've definitely seen that there's room enough for both films. Perhaps all those people that saw Avatar last weekend can start to make time for Sherlock Holmes. Give it $46 million for the weekend, putting it around $140 million total to that point.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel horrified millions to the tune of $48 million over Christmas weekend, and $75 million in five days. More than any other film, it is really dependent on this weekend for its final box office tally, as it's about to lose most of its intended audience to schools. With $37 million this weekend and a probable final number in the $250 million range, get ready for Alvin 3: The Chipmunks Sell Out (More).


Adults who weren't interested in things blowing up had three main choices last weekend – It's Complicated, Up in the Air and The Blind Side. With $22 million, It's Complicated was the clear champion, leveraging its quirky, high-concept romantic comedy premise and likable stars in Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, to great effect. I'd look for this to stay pretty popular over the holiday with $17 million.

Up in the Air is the big Oscar contender of the bunch, with potential for nominations is just about every major category save supporting actor. As such, it's likely to build on this official wide opening weekend of $12 million, or at least it should when it gets more screens. Watch for another $11 million this weekend.

The Blind Side, on the other hand, has already proven itself to be a ridiculous audience favorite and is well on its way to around $250 million, something that would blow away Sandra Bullock's previous record for box office by nearly $100 million, and destroy her average film by nearly $200 million. Combining sports with heart-string pulling seems to have been the magic trick that revitalized her career to an astounding degree, and seems likely to even earn her an Oscar nomination. With around $10 million, The Blind Side should get close to the $200 million milestone this weekend.

Other family films like Disney's The Princess and the Frog and A Christmas Carol failed to make a big dent into holiday box office – Princess losing out to the Chipmunks and Carol getting upstaged by Avatar, its 3D and IMAX screens appropriated away – and are more or less done. Disney's re-entry into traditional animation will fall short of the $100 million mark, while Zemeckis will have to try for future re-releases when cinema isn't being revolutionized.

Rob Marshall's much-hyped musical Nine more or less earned itself out of an Oscar nomination with an opening weekend of less than $6 million (though with ten nominees, it's still possible – it's certainly no longer a major threat), which is somewhat surprising given the parade of female flesh the film promised. Essentially no one could figure out what it was supposed to be about ,though, which is never a good sign. Nine may end up with a final total of just $25 million.

Forecast: Weekend of January 1-3, 2010
Number of
Changes in Sites
from Last
Gross ($)
1 Avatar N/A N/A 60.5
2 Sherlock Holmes N/A N/A 46.3
3 Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel N/A N/A 36.9
4 It's Complicated N/A N/A 17.4
5 Up in the Air N/A N/A 11.0
6 The Blind Side N/A N/A 10.4
7 The Princess and the Frog N/A N/A 7.5
8 Nine N/A N/A 3.6
9 Did You Hear About the Morgans? N/A N/A 3.0
10 Invictus N/A N/A 3.0



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