Avatar Starts 2010 With $300 Million
By John Hamann
January 3, 2010
Second spot this weekend goes to Sherlock Holmes, which didn't have as strong a weekend as Avatar, but that shouldn't take anything away from it. Behaving more like an action movie, Sherlock Holmes earned $38.4 million, and sees a large drop of 38% compared to the Christmas Day weekend. Over the comparable Fridays alone, there was a $10 million difference between Christmas Day and New Year's Day, where Avatar saw a $1.5 million increase. Regardless, the Robert Downey Jr. flick crossed the $100 million mark on Thursday, its seventh day, the same amount of time it took fellow December opener, I Am Legend, to complete the same feat. Admittedly, the drop is larger than expected, but I think it's important to remember that last weekend was the biggest weekend in box office history, so to have solid holds (like the 24% average we saw in 1999) for this kind of large opener is almost impossible. The Warner Bros. flick is still likely to be a $200 million film; it will just have to work harder than we expected it to last weekend. Living in the shade of Avatar isn't easy, so to have a gross so far of $140.7 million versus what could be the biggest movie in history is definitely a large accomplishment.
The Alvin and the Chipmunks sequel doesn't see the same large drop that Sherlock Holmes did, but it is still significant. Again, though, it has been another huge earner over the last 12 days. Alvin and the Chipmunks (you can forget it on the subtitle) crossed the $100 million mark on Tuesday, also its seventh day of release (it opened on a Wednesday). Alvin had earned $120 million before heading into the weekend (its ninth day), where the original Alvin took 15 days to reach the same mark. Alvin had a Friday gross of $12.6 million (off $1.3 million from the previous Friday), and turned that into a weekend gross of $36.6 million, good for a solid drop of 25%. The previous earnings of the top three are skewing the third weekend percentage drops, as most films haven't earned these amounts through three weekends. Alvin and the Chipmunks cost Fox and New Regency only $70 million to make, and it has now earned a wild $157.3 million. The sequel is on track to best the domestic take of the original, which took in $217 million at the US box office in 2007.
The breakaway winner from the second tier of releases is It's Complicated, as the Meryl Streep flick pulls away from Up in the Air and The Blind Side. It's Complicated is becoming a story unto itself this box office weekend, as it had a stellar hold that puts Sherlock and Alvin to shame. The Nancy Meyers comedy earned $7 million on Friday (basically flat with Christmas Day) and a total of $18.7 million over the weekend, dropping only 15% from the previous frame. This gross is more in line with the 1999 comparison, the last time New Year's Day fell on a Friday. This one behaves more like the model as its gross leading into the weekend is more moderate and less breakout, and thus follows the trend. The Universal release cost $75 million to make (Streep, Baldwin and Martin and director Meyers would likely have been half of that), so to have a current total of $59.1 million is fantastic news for the studio, especially when next weekend's take is likely to be above $10 million. It's Complicated will finish as a $100 million film, but it will likely to take until the end of January to reach that mark.