Avatar Closes Book of Eli
By John Hamann
January 17, 2010
Avatar faced some potential blockbuster competition this weekend, as Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend brought Denzel Washington and The Book of Eli out to face off against James Cameron and the Blue People Group. Avatar seemed safe to repeat for its fifth straight weekend, but with Denzel able to open films in the $40 million range, Avatar would have to hold strongly from its $50 million gross earned last weekend. Other new players this weekend include Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones and Jackie Chan dipping to new lows in The Spy Next Door.
Our number one film for the fifth straight weekend is James Cameron's Avatar, as it becomes the first film since 1999's The Sixth Sense to stay at number one for five consecutive frames. Avatar earned another $41.3 million this weekend, and drops a very small 18%, thanks largely in part to the Martin Luther King holiday on Monday, which turns a usually slower Sunday at the box office into a quasi-Saturday. While Avatar didn't reach $500 million this weekend, it will before next weekend is upon us, which will make it the fastest ever to reach that mark. It took The Dark Night 45 days to earn a half-billion, where Avatar will likely take 35 days. Avatar also easily took the record for the biggest fifth weekend of all time, getting ahead of Titanic's $30 million and The Sixth Sense, which brought in $29.3 million over its fifth frame. Oddly enough, over Titanic's fifth frame, it beat another Denzel Washington film, Fallen, which debuted that weekend to $9.1 million. History is repeating itself, this time with bigger numbers.
I am now prepared to say that Avatar is going to be the number one film of all time, as there is no slowing the march toward Titanic's $600 million domestic gross. As of today, I am extrapolating an expected total domestic gross north of $625 million, which it could earn by the first of April. Avatar should have a strong weekday showing, as the MLK holiday on Monday should play like a Sunday, improving Monday-to-Thursday numbers. Additionally, there could be an uptick in weekday numbers due to potential Golden Globe wins tonight for the 3-D film. I am then expecting a fairly hefty drop next weekend (45%) as it will compare with this weekend's holiday influenced take. Following that, drops should be fairly normal (35% area, 3-D always holds well) until the President's Day long weekend, which combines with Valentine's Day weekend this year (Valentine's falls on the Sunday) and should lower that weekend's drop to 20% (or even less). Avatar will lose its 3-D and IMAX screens to Alice in Wonderland on March 5th, and if my extrapolations are correct, could cross the $600 million mark that weekend, which, oddly enough is also Oscar weekend. While the odds are still very long, it is in the realm of possibility that Avatar could beat Titanic's record and win a Best Picture Oscar on the same day. Avatar currently has a domestic gross of $491.8 million, and a foreign cume well over a billion dollars. Avatar should also easily beat Titanic's worldwide gross of $1.85 billion.