Weekend Wrap-Up

Avatar Repels Revolt, Daybreakers

By John Hamann

January 10, 2010

Sigourney Weaver is aging...oddly.

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The question on everyone's mind is whether Avatar will catch Titanic's record setting $600 million domestic gross. Now that we have the fourth weekend gross, all I can really say is that its going to be very close, and depends on a few outside influences. Oscar nominations are announced February 2nd, which is still another three weekends away. If (and we are talking some fair sized "ifs" here) Avatar loses about $10 million per weekend going forward, and then gets a basketful of Oscar nominations (I'm looking for ten, including Best Picture) my rough calculations have Avatar at about $560 million by February 7th. Should that estimate hold, I don't see Avatar having a problem making it to $600 million by the time the Oscar ceremony is held on March 7th. I'm not telling you that Avatar is a lock to be the biggest domestic grosser ever, I am telling you that at this point, it looks like it will be close. Regardless, Avatar is a behemoth, as its worldwide total now sits at $1.3 billion, again, behind only Titanic's $1.84 billion. Notice that there is now little talk of Avatar's $230 million budget.

Our number two film this weekend is Sherlock Holmes, another film that has found a lot of success, but this one is doing it much more quietly than Avatar. The Robert Downey Jr. flick earned $16.6 million and was off a rough 55% compared to the previous weekend. Before freaking out about the large drop for Holmes, remember that the last time New Year's Day fell on a Friday it was 1999, and despite that crop of films earning a lot less than the $36.6 million that Holmes earned last weekend, the average drop was still 42% down from the previous frame. Simply put, the drop is large here, but it is expected. Sherlock Holmes now has a running total of $165.2 million for Warner Bros. against a $90 million production budget, and is approaching $100 million in overseas grosses and hasn't opened yet in a handful of large markets. Sherlock Holmes should be considered a huge success for its studio, but it's hard living in the shadow of Avatar. I expect the Holmes sequel will easily outdo the Holmes original.


The Alvin and the Chipmunks sequel stays in third this weekend, as the kids flick also lost some steam thanks to kids being back in school on Friday. Alvin and company earned another $16.3 million and was down a hefty 54% compared to the previous frame. The 20th Century Fox sequel has now earned $178.2 million domestically, and over $100 million overseas, against a $75 million production budget. It's been a really good winter for the folks at Fox.

After a few weekends with nothing new in theaters, we finally have a new film in the top five, our first since Christmas Day. That film is Daybreakers, and it earned the amount it needed to be considered a success. Daybreakers took in $15 million from 2,523 venues, and had an average of $5,945. The vampire flick, which stars Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe, was made for $20 million, and with this weekend's take, will already be profitable for Lionsgate due to foreign sales. While no Twilight (thank goodness), Daybreakers' opening does fit right in the wheelhouse of other vampire flicks from the past. Blade opened to $17.1 million in 1998, and 30 Days of Night opened to $16 million in 2007.

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