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'Avatar' Box Office: Best Christmas Eve Ever (Non-Weekend)

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According to the Box Office Mojo single-day chart for Thursday, James Cameron's sci-fi adventure Avatar grossed an estimated $11.3 million on Dec. 24. Looking at their charts, Avatar had the best non-weekend (Mon.-Thu.) Christmas Eve earnings ever (not adjusted for inflation).

When it comes to single-day rankings, Avatar's Thursday grosses were enough to land it in the #39 slot. The Thursday record holder remains Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, which had its Day 1 on a Thursday in May 2005. (Yesterday was Avatar's Day 7.)

As for Thursdays in December, six movies hold higher rankings than Avatar. They are: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Day 2 at #12 and Day 9 at #20), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Day 9 at #15 and Day 2 at #21), Marley and Me (#18), Meet the Fockers (Day 2 at #28 and Day 9 at #31), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (#32), and Night at the Museum (#38).

The box office phenomenon Titanic, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, can be found at #37. Back on Jan. 1, 2008 (Day 14), $11.5 million were generated by James Cameron's romantic disaster melodrama (as opposed to disastrous romantic melodrama, though I'm sure some would refer to it that way).

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, which beat Avatar when it opened on Wed., is now way behind on the Thursday chart, landing at #74 with $8.0 million.

Tomorrow opens Guy Ritchie's much-ballyhooed Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law. That will be Avatar's chief competitor for moviegoers' dollars, though Cameron's film is the one expected to come out on top.

Avatar stars Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana in a tale set on a far-off moon inhabited by the blue-skinned Na'vi. Also in the cast: Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Laz Alonso, and CCH Pounder.

Photo: (WETA / 20th Century Fox)

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Stephen Lang in Avatar
Stephen Lang in Avatar (Mark Fellman / 20th Century Fox)

According to the Box Office Mojo chart for Wed., December 23, Avatar continued its $16 million-a-weekday run. Although James Cameron's sci-fi epic didn't break any records as far as I know, it did add $16.4 million to its domestic take, which now totals $125.9 million.

Nineteen movies have had better Wednesdays than Avatar (remember that the chart hasn't been adjusted for inflation), but most of those further up the list had their opening day on a Wednesday. Yesterday was Day 6 for Avatar, which was released last Friday. Only two non-opening movies earned more than Avatar on a Wed.: Transformers at #6 (Day 2) and The Dark Knight at #15 ($18.3 million on Day 6).

Per screen, Avatar actually scored better than The Dark Knight: $4,764 vs. $4,209, but that can be partly explained because of higher ticket prices and the fact that Avatar is playing in nearly 900 fewer screens. All things being equal, the fewer the theaters the greater the chance of higher average numbers.

Among the other blockbusters that fared better than Avatar on a Wednesday are Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen at #1 ($62.0m), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince at #2 ($58.1 million), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at #3 ($44.2 million), The Dark Knight at #15, Independence Day at #18 ($17.4 million), and the new release Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel at #13 ($18.8m).

Once again, bear in mind that the above figures have not been adjusted for inflation and that Avatar tickets tend to be costlier because of 3D/IMAX premiums.

Avatar stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Giovanni Ribisi, and Laz Alonso. James Cameron both directed and wrote the screenplay. I personally doubt it that his directing expletives at a fan, though caught on camera (was that a set-up?), will somehow dim either Avatar's box office prospects or Cameron's chances at the Oscars.

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