Weekend Wrap-Up

Avatar Now A Six Weekend Wonder at the Box Office

By John Hamann

January 24, 2010

Cameron was more anti-Pandora than anyone expected.

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Heading into the frame, way in the back of my mind, I considered the possibility of new release Legion taking top spot away from Avatar this weekend. Screen Gems has seen some solid openers, and Avatar was coming off of a long weekend, so I thought maybe, just maybe, this would be it, and Avatar's consecutive weekend streak at number one would end today. Three openers took on the Golden Globe winner (snork!) - they included the aforementioned Legion with Paul Bettany, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's new film The Tooth Fairy (which looked even dumber than The Game Plan), and Extraordinary Measures, a questionable choice for Harrison Ford. The story of the weekend continues to be Avatar, as it had a white hot holiday Monday last week, and a fantastic hold this weekend.

Avatar is our number one film of the weekend, as records continue to fall like rain. This weekend, Avatar earned another $36 million and dropped only 16% against last weekend's holiday inflated gross. Holds are obviously tougher following holiday-impacted weekends, as a holiday Sunday plays more like a Saturday. Avatar ignored that rule, and wins its sixth consecutive weekend, becoming the first film since Titanic to accomplish that feat. Avatar also records the biggest gross ever for a sixth weekend, trouncing Titanic's $25.2 million sixth frame. Holding the top gross in the seventh frame will be somewhat tougher next weekend, as Titanic actually increased its gross between its sixth and seventh weekends, moving up to $25.9 million. Avatar again completely blitzed expectations, as analysts had it finishing with about $25 million before the weekend began. Avatar also took down The Dark Knight, the all-time number two domestic grosser. The Bat-sequel earned $533 million over the summer of 2008, but still holds the record for biggest opening weekend, at $158 million.


Avatar is also unstoppable now for Titanic's crown as the number one domestic earner of all time. These fantastic holds only make the prospective domestic total for Avatar grow. Last weekend I predicted the record to fall in the first weekend of March, but with a much better than expected holiday Monday this week, combined with the excellent hold this weekend, Avatar looks to gross more than $650 million domestically. At this point, I'm predicting the record will fall the weekend of February 5th, or, right before Oscar nominations are revealed. It's important to remember that Avatar is unlike anything we've ever seen, as the 3-D and IMAX element are completely skewing the numbers. Avatar currently has a total of $552.8 million on the domestic front, and over $1.2 billion from overseas cinemas.

Second spot goes to Legion, the heavily advertised action pic. Like Book of Eli, Legion is another action flick with a religious angle, and it managed a weekend gross of $18.2 million from a muted 2,476 venues. It had an average of $7,351. Legion might have looked good, but critics hated it, and I think the public caught on. Legion was only 23% fresh at RottenTomatoes, and scored that low despite only 39 reviews being counted. Sony's Screen Gems picked this one up, and the budget is probably low, my estimate being about $30 million. If that is the case, this is a solid pick up for the thrifty Screen Gems, as it should earn $40 million before it's done. However, it could play a lot like the vampire flick Daybreakers, which opened two weekends ago, and dropped 65% last weekend after opening to $15 million.

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