'Avatar' passes $2 billion milestone worldwide, to surpass 'Titanic' in U.S. & Canada – but not in ticket sales
Jan. 31, '10, update: Avatar's estimated weekend (Jan. 29-31) gross was at the higher end of expectations: $30 million at 3,074 locations. That represents a small 14 percent drop from last week. Average per theater: $9,759.
After 45 days out, Avatar's domestic total stands at $594.4 million. If weekend estimates are correct, James Cameron's sci-fi adventure will surpass Cameron's romantic melodrama/disaster movie Titanic (not accounting for inflation or higher 3D/IMAX ticket prices) either Tuesday or Wednesday next week. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, Titanic grossed $600.4 million back in 1998.
Also this weekend, Avatar broke the $2 billion mark at the worldwide box office; its cume currently stands at $2.039 billion. The weak dollar and 3D/IMAX-boosted ticket prices have been a great help to Avatar's international revenues.
'Avatar' awards, cast
A 20th Century Fox release, Avatar has received nominations from the French Academy, the British Academy, the American Cinema Editors, the American Society of Cinematographers, the Writers Guild, the Art Directors Guild, and the Costume Designers Guild.
Last Sunday, James Cameron's mega-budget environmentally conscious sci-fi adventure lost the 2010 Producers Guild Award to Kathryn Bigelow's low-budget Iraq War drama The Hurt Locker. And last night, Cameron lost the 2010 Directors Guild Award to former wife Bigelow, the first woman to ever win the DGA prize for a narrative feature.
Written and directed by Cameron, the Best Motion Picture Drama and Best Director Golden Globe winner stars:
Sam Worthington. Zoe Saldana. Stephen Lang. Laz Alonso. Joel David Moore. Michelle Rodriguez. Giovanni Ribisi. CCH Pounder. Wes Studi.
Three-time Oscar nominee Sigourney Weaver (lead for Aliens, 1986, and Gorillas in the Mist, 1988; supporting for Working Girl, 1988).
Mel Gibson comeback fizzles
Mel Gibson's $80 million-budgeted comeback vehicle Edge of Darkness trailed holdover Avatar at a distant second, earning a disappointing $17.1 million as found at boxofficemojo.com. Some had been predicting higher figures – in the $20-22 million range.
At 3,066 locations, Edge of Darkness averaged a mid-level $5,584 per screen. For comparison's sake, Avatar's average on its seventh weekend – even considering 3D/IMAX premium surcharges – was a much higher $9,759.
An adaptation of Troy Kennedy-Martin's 1985 BBC miniseries about a detective tracking down those responsible for his daughter's brutal murder, Edge of Darkness is Gibson's first film since M. Night Shyamalan's 2002 horror/sci-fier Signs.
Bob Peck, Joe Don Baker, and Joanne Whalley toplined the British, made-for-TV Edge of Darkness.
'When in Rome' grosses not as disastrous as reviews
At no. 3, new entry When in Rome brought in $12 million at 2,456 locations; although anything but a hit, that's a – relatively speaking – acceptable figure considering the romantic comedy's disastrous reviews: a downright rotten 15 percent approval rating and 3.4/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics. The per-theater average was $4,912.
Directed by Mark Steven Johnson, When in Rome stars Kristen Bell, Josh Duhamel, Anjelica Huston, Danny DeVito, Will Arnett, Jon Heder, Dax Shepard, Lee Pace, and Judith Malina.
The no. 4 movie was Tooth Fairy, starring Dwayne Johnson and veteran Julie Andrews (Star!, Victor Victoria), which lifted its cumulative gross to $26.1 million after adding $10 million.
Next in line, the Denzel Washington post-apocalyptic thriller The Book of Eli brought in $8.7 million for a cume of $74.3 million after three weeks.
'Legion' disbanding fast, 'It's Complicated' having easy time among Top Ten
Starring Lucas Black, Paul Bettany, and Dennis Quaid, Legion slipped to no. 6 with $6.8 million. Total to date: $28.6 million.
Following in seventh place with $4.7 million was Peter Jackson's big-screen adaptation of The Lovely Bones, which reached a cume of $38 million. Saoirse Ronan, Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Stanley Tucci, and Best Actress Oscar winner Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking, 1995) star.
Guy Ritchie's blockbuster Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, and Rachel McAdams, pulled in $4.5 million at no. 8, bringing its total gross to $197.5 million. In ninth place, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel collected $4 million for a total of $209.2 million.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Nancy Meyers' comedy It's Complicated with $3.7 million for a domestic total of $104 million In the cast: two-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep (supporting for Kramer vs. Kramer, 1979; lead for Sophie's Choice, 1982), Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, Lake Bell, John Krasinski, and Mary Kay Place.
Gone from the Top Ten:
- The Blind Side.
Dir.: John Lee Hancock.
Cast: Sandra Bullock. Tim McGraw.
- Extraordinary Measures.
Dir.: Tom Vaughan.
Cast: Harrison Ford. Brendan Fraser. Keri Russell.
- Up in the Air.
Dir.: Jason Reitman.
Cast: George Clooney. Vera Farmiga. Anna Kendrick.
- Leap Year.
Dir.: Anand Tucker.
Cast: Amy Adams. Matthew Goode. Adam Scott. John Lithgow.
- The Spy Next Door.
Dir.: Brian Levant.
Cast: Jackie Chan. Amber Valletta. Madeline Carroll.
'Avatar' easily beats Mel Gibson, Kristen Bell-Josh Duhamel romantic comedy
Jan. 30 update: Sherlock Holmes, The Book of Eli, and even Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel managed to overtake Avatar on their opening day, but on Friday, Jan. 29, James Cameron's sci-fier easily beat out both Mel Gibson's comeback vehicle Edge of Darkness and the Josh Duhamel-Kristen Bell romantic comedy When in Rome.
Avatar collected an estimated $7.3 million, a relatively small 19 percent drop from the previous Friday.
At 3,066 locations, Edge of Darkness was the no. 2 movie with $5.6 million and a $1,844 per screen average. For comparison's sake, Avatar's average on day 43 – 3D/IMAX premium surcharges should be taken into account here – was $2,383.
When in Rome was the no. 3 movie with $4.4 million and a not at all bad – for such a poorly received comedy – $1,792 per-theater average.
At no. 4 The Book of Eli grossed $2.4 million, followed by Tooth Fairy with $2.28 million.
'Avatar' lifted by international market
Avatar is poised to cross the $2 billion mark at the global box office sometime either on Sunday or early next week. James Cameron's previous mega-blockbuster, Titanic, toplining Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, and veteran Gloria Stuart (The Old Dark House, The Invisible Man), scored $1.84 billion back in 1998.
Avatar, for its part, has earned a staggering $1.924 billion to date; more than 70 percent of that amount came from overseas. Top markets include China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Australia, Spain, Germany, Japan, Brazil, Italy, and Mexico.
About 80 percent of the film's domestic (U.S. and Canada) take and more than two-thirds of the international revenues were generated at 3D/IMAX screenings, which charge higher ticket prices. Also, the dollar's current weakness helps to “inflate” earnings coming from abroad.
For these reasons, comparisons to Titanic are at best tricky.
'Avatar' no. 2 movie at domestic box office, no. 1 internationally – not adjusted for inflation
Jan. 29 update: James Cameron's Avatar has grossed $546.4 million after 42 days in release. It's now the no. 2 movie on the domestic box office chart (not taking inflation or higher 3D/IMAX ticket prices into account). Avatar will likely remain the no. 2 movie until next weekend, right behind Cameron's own Titanic, which earned $600.7 million back in 1998.
This weekend, the 3D sci-fier is expected to keep its place at the top of the domestic box office for the seventh straight weekend, with grosses anywhere between $25-30 million. New entries Edge of Darkness, starring a gun-toting, tired-looking Mel Gibson, and the widely panned romantic comedy When in Rome, with Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel, will likely land in second and third place, respectively.
Worldwide (not adjusted for inflation / 3D surcharges / dollar exchange variations), Avatar tops the chart, with $1.9 billion, having passed Titanic a few days ago. The Leonardo DiCaprio-Kate Winslet hit – the no. 1 domestic box office leader for 15 straight weekends back in 1998 – cumed at $1.84 billion.
'It's Complicated' passes $100 million milestone, 'To Save a Life' plummets
Jan. 29 update: On Thursday, Jan. 28, Nancy Meyers' romantic comedy It's Complicated starring Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, and Steve Martin, added $483,000. Total: $100.3 million after 35 days.
Also in the cast: Lake Bell, John Krasinski, and Mary Kay Place.
Curiously, following a brief spike on Wednesday, Brian Baugh's To Save a Life, starring Randy Wayne, fell 45 percent to a mere 68,000.
'To Save a Life' spikes
Thursday, Jan. 28: Going down the Wednesday box office chart, below is a quartet of potential Oscar 2010 contenders:
- Crazy Heart: $117,000 on Wednesday. Total: $4.2 million.
Dir.: Scott Cooper.
Cast: Jeff Bridges. Maggie Gyllenhaal.
- A Single Man: $64,000. Total: $4.4 million.
Dir.: Tom Ford.
Cast: Colin Firth. Julianne Moore. Matthew Goode. Nicholas Hoult.
- Nine: $34,000. Total: $18.9 million.
Dir.: Rob Marshall.
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis. Marion Cotillard. Nicole Kidman. Penélope Cruz. Kate Hudson. Fergie. Veteran Best Actress Academy Award winner Sophia Loren (Two Women, 1961).
- Precious: $23,000. Total: $45.2 million.
Dir.: Lee Daniels.
Cast: Gabourey Sidibe. Mo'Nique. Paula Patton. Mariah Carey. Lenny Kravitz.
Also of note, Brian Baugh's To Save a Life, a morality tale starring Randy Wayne as an all-star college athlete who changes his ways following the death of a friend, soared 103 percent, earning 124,000 on Wednesday for a $1.76 million cume after six days.
To Save a Life averaged a middling $282 per screen. The highest average by far on Wed. was Avatar's: $999 per screen.
Avatar image: Mark Fellman / 20th Century Fox.
Edge of Darkness image: Warner Bros.
When in Rome image: Philippe Antonello / Touchstone Pictures.
Stephen Lang as a boorish villain in Avatar (ILM / 20th Century Fox)
Avatar keeps forging ahead. James Cameron's sci-fi epic has grossed $564.4 million after 42 days out. The #2 movie at the domestic box office (not taking inflation or higher 3D/IMAX ticket prices into account), currently about $55 million behind Cameron's own Titanic, will almost surely be #1 after next weekend's revenues are tallied.
Worldwide (not adjusted for inflation/dollar exchange variations), Avatar has already topped the box office chart, with $1.9 billion. It passed Titanic a few days ago – the Leonardo DiCaprio-Kate Winslet hit grossed $1.843 billion – at least in part thanks to the US dollar's weakness in most key film markets. Also helping was China's and Russia's opening up to Hollywood fare in the last decade.
As I've said before, the picture looks quite different when the box office charts take inflation into consideration — even while still ignoring Avatar's 3D/IMAX premium surcharges.
Box Office Mojo estimates that Avatar is now #26 on the all-time domestic box office chart adjusted for inflation, or eight slots higher than it was ten days ago. It's a notch above the 1965 James Bond flick Thunderball – that's when Sean Connery was still synonymous with Bond – and below the 1978 John Travolta-Olivia Newton-John musical Grease.
Avatar is expected to gross somewhere between $25-30 million this weekend. If so, that means it'll be #21 on Monday, having passed the aforementioned Grease, plus Disney's The Lion King, Disney and Julie Andrews' Mary Poppins, Robert Zemeckis and Tom Hanks' Disneyesque Forrest Gump and Francis Ford Coppola's Oscar-winning The Godfather, which has nothing to do with Walt Disney in any way whatsoever.
Still right ahead of Avatar will be Fantasia (multiple rereleases), George Lucas' Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, Mike Nichols' The Graduate, and Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Once again, bear in mind that those are approximations based on “average” ticket prices provided by the National Association of Theater Owners. (Box Office Mojo came up with its own estimated average – $7.35 – for 2010; that's the same as NATO's 2009 “average.”) An accurate calculation of a film's popularity at the box office – as in, the number of tickets sold (and its ratio to the population size at the time) – would be based on where a movie made most of its money, e.g., a top-dollar New York house, in thousands of cheap small-town theaters, or at 3D/IMAX theaters that charge a premium.
It's also worth remembering that population increases, changes in movie-going demographics, and the growth of entertainment alternatives (home video, cable television, pay-per-view options) should all be taken into consideration when comparing the box office success of movies from different eras. And that many of the movies found on Box Office Mojo's inflation-adjusted chart had one, two, or a dozen rereleases throughout the decades.
The effect of piracy on a movie's box office performance remains highly debatable. It all depends on the type of movie (would you rather watch Avatar on your computer screen or at a 3D movie house?), the quality of the pirated material (high-def. copies vs. crummy reproductions), and where the copying is taking place (Beverly Hills or Lagos or Karachi, where most people who'd buy 50-cent copies of Hollywood flicks wouldn't be able to afford going to the movies, anyhow).
If 3D/IMAX premium surcharges were factored in, Avatar would be way further down Box Office Mojo's inflation-adjusted chart. As I've already explained in the comments section of a previous Avatar post, the 3D/IMAX surcharges can add quite a bit to Avatar's overall take: somewhere between 25-30 and 40 percent. Other movies, including the vast majority of recent releases, didn't (and still don't) have that sort of advantage – certainly not to Avatar's extent (80 percent of its domestic gross has come from 3D and/or IMAX screenings).
So, even if you go for the lower end of the scale and deduct only 25 percent from Avatar's total earnings, the 2010 box office sensation would have taken in “only” $423.2 million, placing it at …
… #65, ahead of Disney's 2003 animated Finding Nemo, behind Burt Reynolds' 1978 action flick for hicks Smokey and the Bandit.
If you go for a mid-level percentage, or about 33 percent, Avatar's “2D-equivalent revenues” (in terms of admissions) would be $376.3 million, which would place it at …
Bear in mind that those are approximations based on “average” ticket prices provided by the National Association of Theater Owners. (Box Office Mojo came up with its own estimated average – $7.35 – for 2010; that's the same as NATO's 2009 “average.”) An accurate calculation of a film's popularity at the box office – as in, the number of tickets sold (and its ratio to the population size at the time) – would be based on where a movie made most of its money, e.g., a top-dollar New York house or in thousands of cheaper small-town theaters.
It's also worth remembering that population increases, changes in movie-going demographics, and the growth of entertainment alternatives (home video, cable television, pay-per-view options) should all be taken into consideration when comparing the box office success of movies from different eras. And that many of the movies found on Box Office Mojo's inflation-adjusted chart had one or more rereleases throughout the years.
On Saturday, James Cameron's Avatar overtook Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight at the domestic box office. On Monday, it overtook Cameron's own Titanic at the worldwide (including the US) box office.
Avatar has been out for about six weeks. It has grossed $1.292 billion overseas and $551.7 million domestically (US/Canada). Titanic, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, grossed $1.242 billion overseas and $600.8 million domestically. Avatar's worldwide total currently stands at $1.843.7 billion; Titanic's take (after a number of months) was $1.842.8 billion.
Impressive? Sure. Even so, Avatar still has quite some ways to go before it matches the number of tickets sold for The Dark Knight domestically ($533.7 million in revenues), and a long, long, long way to go before it matches the number of tickets sold for Titanic on a global scale.
What many reports opt to ignore – or to have buried somewhere near the end of the article – is that Avatar made most of its money at 3D and/or IMAX screenings that charge a sizable premium. The vast majority of blockbusters that came before Avatar didn't have that box office plus.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, at least 65 percent of the film's overseas box office and almost 80 percent of its domestic take have been generated at 3D venues, which can double (or more) the cost of an “average"* movie ticket price. For comparison's sake: The Dark Knight earned a mere 6.5 percent of its worldwide revenues from IMAX screenings. That's why when it comes to the number of tickets sold, Avatar still lags behind a whole bunch of other movies both domestically and internationally.
The Reporter adds that Avatar is now the biggest-grossing film (if you ignore inflation) of all time in China, Spain, Russia, Hong Kong (actually part of China, but never mind), and Chile, and the biggest Hollywood hit ever in India. Other top markets include France** ($124.8 million total), Germany ($95.8 million), the U.K. and Ireland ($93.2 million), South Korea ($79.7 million), Japan ($77.7 million), Australia ($77 million) and Spain ($76 million). (See Box Office Mojo chart.)
The fact that the US currency remains in the dumps helps as well, for the money generated overseas buys many more dollars, thus inflating Avatar's foreign revenues. On the other hand, back in 1998, when Titanic was earning millions abroad, the dollar was remarkably strong.
According to the Reporter, the actual #1 box office hit the world over remains a 71-year-old movie, Gone with the Wind. The article claims the Clark Gable-Vivien Leigh Civil War drama grossed $400 million worldwide in 1939, the equivalent of $6 billion today.
Although I have no doubt that Gone with the Wind was a much bigger sensation upon its release than Avatar is or ever will be, I'm pretty positive that the Reporter's figures for the original GWTW receipts include rereleases as well. (See Box Office Mojo's all-time figures adjusted for inflation; note that this chart only covers domestic revenues.)
* “Average” ticket prices nationwide in any given year are provided by the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO). Box Office Mojo has come up with an estimate of $7.35 for 2010; those are the same figures as the ones NATO provided for 2009. Bear in mind that those “averages” won't necessarily reflect the number of tickets a movie has sold in any given year. In order to come up with a relatively accurate estimate, it's crucial to know where a movie made most of its money – a top-dollar house or a cheaper small-town or neighborhood theater.
** Includes Monaco, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia
Photos: Avatar (WETA / 20th Century Fox); Titanic (20th Century Fox)
'Avatar' surpasses 'The Dark Knight' domestic box office – but not in ticket sales
Jan. 24, '10, update: James Cameron's sci-fi blockbuster Avatar topped once again the U.S. and Canada box office this weekend (Jan. 22–24), collecting a solid $36 million according to studio estimates released today. Average: $11,461 per theater at 3,141 sites.
Partly as a result of inflated 3D ticket prices, Avatar has now surpassed the $533 million domestic gross of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, lifting its cume to $552.7 million. Avatar is also on track to beat the worldwide total of Cameron's Titanic within the next ten days or so.
In the Avatar cast:
Sam Worthington. Zoe Saldana. Stephen Lang. Joel David Moore. Giovanni Ribisi. Wes Studi. CCH Pounder. Michelle Rodriguez. Laz Alonso.
Three-time Academy Award nominee Sigourney Weaver (lead for Aliens, 1986, and Gorillas in the Mist, 1988; supporting for Working Girl, 1988).
'Legion' trailing at a distant second, 'Tooth Fairy' has toothless debut
As found at boxofficemojo.com, among this weekend's weak batch of new releases Scott Charles Stewart's Legion delivered the best performance, raking in $18.2 million – about half of what Avatar earned on its sixth weekend out but enough for the no. 2 slot.
Starring Lucas Black and Paul Bettany, and featuring veteran Dennis Quaid (The Big Easy, In Good Company), Legion chronicles the endless war between humans and angels.
Michael Lembeck's widely panned Tooth Fairy opened in fourth place with $14.5 million at 3,344 venues. Starring Dwayne Johnson, the comedy follows a mean-spirited hockey player playing the role of a kindhearted tooth fairy. Also in the cast: Ashley Judd, Seth MacFarlane, and veteran Julie Andrews (The Sound of Music, S.O.B.).
Harrison Ford movie bombs
Also opening this weekend was Tom Vaughan's Extraordinary Measures, which finished seventh with a dismal $7 million. Starring Harrison Ford – he of decades-old blockbusters such as Star Wars, Witness, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Clear and Present Danger – Brendan Fraser, and Keri Russell, the film averaged a meager $2,746 at 2,549 locations.
Taking inflation into account, Extraordinary Measures happens to have suffered the worst opening weekend ever of a Harrison Ford movie in wide release. Ford's previous opening weekend nadir, Sydney Pollack's romantic comedy Sabrina, debuted with $5.56 million (not adjusted) at 1,821 locations in Dec. 1995.
'The Book of Eli' still strong
Trailing Legion at no. 3, The Book of Eli, which features Best Actor Oscar winner Denzel Washington (Training Day, 2001), held up well with $17 million. Domestic total: $62 million.
Trailing Tooth Fairy at no. 5, Peter Jackson's psychological/crime drama The Lovely Bones, starring Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, and Saoirse Ronan, took in $8.8 million and a cume of $31.6 million. Also in the cast: Stanley Tucci and Best Actress Academy Award winner Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking, 1995).
Guy Ritchie's blockbuster Sherlock Holmes, featuring Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, and Rachel McAdams, was no. 6, bringing in $7.1 million. Domestic cume: $191.5 million.
Trailing Extraordinary Measures at no. 8, kiddie flick Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel pulled in $6.5 million. Total to date: a whopping $204.2 million.
Meryl Streep comedy nears $100 million milestone
Displaying remarkably sturdy legs after five weeks, Nancy Meyers' comedy It's Complicated collected $6.1 million at no. 9. Current cume: $98.6 million. Expect the Meryl Streep star vehicle to pass the $100 million milestone sometime this week.
Also in the It's Complicated cast:
Steve Martin. Alec Baldwin. Lake Bell. John Krasinski. Mary Kay Place. Hunter Parrish. Rita Wilson. Zoe Kazan. Alexandra Wentworth.
Caitlin FitzGerald. Nora Dunn. James Patrick Stewart. Emjay Anthony. Heitor Pereira. Ramin Djawadi. Cameos: Alan Cumming. Oprah Winfrey.
It's Complicated is Meryl Streep's second 2009 hit directed by a woman, following Julie & Julia, costarring Amy Adams and helmed by Nora Ephron.
Sandra Bullock, George Clooney gone from Top Ten
Rounding out the Top Ten this weekend was the Jackie Chan action comedy The Spy Next Door, which scored $4.7 million. Total: $18.7 million after about ten days.
Gone from the Top Ten:
- The Sandra Bullock blockbuster The Blind Side, also featuring Tim McGraw. John Lee Hancock directed.
- Jason Reitman's Up in the Air, starring George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, and Anna Kendrick.
- The Amy Adams-Matthew Goode romantic comedy Leap Year.
- Michael and Peter Spierig's vampire flick Daybreakers, toplining Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, and Sam Neill.
'Avatar' tops Friday box office, but won't be topping the SAG Awards tonight
Jan. 23 update: Avatar easily remained at the top of the domestic box office on Friday (Jan. 22), grossing $9.15 million according to official studio estimates. James Cameron's 3D sci-fi tale had a small 12 percent drop from the previous Friday. After 36 days out, Avatar's total domestic take stands at $525.9 million.
Thanks to 3D/IMAX surcharges, sometime today Avatar will pass (or has already passed) the $533.3 million domestic gross of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, thus officially becoming the no. 2 all-time blockbuster at the U.S. and Canada box office.
However, it'll still be a while before Avatar sells more tickets than Nolan's second Batman movie starring Christian Bale, Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner Heath Ledger, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Aaron Eckhart.
The SAG Awards take place tonight in Los Angeles, but Avatar isn't up for any of the acting awards. Not exactly a good sign re: its Oscar chances.
Written and directed by Cameron, the Best Picture Drama and Best Director 2010 Golden Globe winner stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and veteran Sigourney Weaver.
Battle between angels and humans loses out to battle between Na'vi and humans
Trailing Avatar, newcomer Legion was the no. 2 movie on Friday, raking in $6.7 million and a good $2,706 per screen average. Lucas Black and Paul Bettany star.
Featuring Denzel Washington, Albert and Allen Hughes' post-apocalyptic drama The Book of Eli fell one spot to third place with $4.93 million – a steep 58 percent drop from last week.
Another new movie, the Dwayne Johnson star vehicle Tooth Fairy, did so-so business, debuting with an estimated $3.5 million or $1,047 per screen. Ashley Judd and Best Actress Oscar winner Julie Andrews (Mary Poppins, 1964) costar.
Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones was no. 5 with $2.6 million – down a hefty 55 percent. The psychological crime drama about a dead girl, the psycho who murdered her, and her grieving family stars BAFTA nominee Saoirse Ronan, Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, BAFTA and SAG Award nominee Stanley Tucci, and veteran Susan Sarandon (Thelma & Louise, Lorenzo's Oil).
And finally, the Harrison Ford-Brendan Fraser vehicle Extraordinary Measures opened at no. 6 with a dismal $2 million or $801 per screen. This will undoubtedly be the weekend's biggest box office bomb.
'Avatar' to be dethroned?
Jan. 22 update: Avatar may lose the top spot at the domestic box office on Friday, as the James Cameron-Sam Worthington collaboration will be going against three new releases:
- The Dwayne Johnson star vehicle Tooth Fairy (“the worst film of the new decade,” according to Alt Film Guide contributor Frank Tabouring at Screening Log), also featuring Ashley Judd and veteran Julie Andrews (That's Life!, Duet for One).
- The poorly received Extraordinary Measures, starring Harrison Ford, Brendan Fraser, and Keri Russell.
- Legion, toplining Lucas Black and Paul Bettany, which hasn't been screened for critics – usually not the best of signs. Also in the cast: Veteran Dennis Quaid (The Right Stuff, The Day After Tomorrow).
'Avatar' still leading the pack
Jan. 20: With $4.1 million on Tuesday, Jan. 19, Avatar continues to lead the domestic box office. James Cameron's sci-fi epic starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and veteran Sigourney Weaver (Alien, The Year of Living Dangerously) had a relatively modest 17 percent drop when compared to the previous Tuesday.
It's a little unclear whether the Golden Globes announced this past weekend have made any impact on the film's box office take. Monday's $11+ million figure may well have been merely due to the Martin Luther King holiday, as non-nominated kiddie flicks such as Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel and The Spy Next Door also fared well.
In other Tuesday box office news, Scott Cooper's Crazy Heart, which earned Jeff Bridges the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama, pulled in $79,000. Total to date: $2.36 million.
Meanwhile, Chris Weitz's New Moon, the second installment in the wildly popular Twilight Saga franchise, added nearly $74,000. Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner star. Total to date: $292.5 million.
Image of Sigourney Weaver (background) and Sam Worthington as Na'vi in Avatar: ILM / 20th Century Fox.
Keri Russell, Brendan Fraser, and Harrison Ford Extraordinary Measures image: CBS Films.
Julie Andrews Tooth Fairy image: Diyah Pera / 20th Century Fox).
'Avatar' now officially third biggest domestic blockbuster
Jan. 19, '10, update: On Monday, Jan. 18, Avatar topped the U.S. and Canada box office once again, with $11.6 million in ticket sales. That was more than twice the amount – $5.6 million – collected by the no. 2 film on the chart, Denzel Washington's newly released post-apocalyptic drama The Book of Eli. (See this past weekend's box office figures further below.)
Avatar's domestic total currently stands at $504.8 million, which means that James Cameron's sci-fi/fantasy extravaganza starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Sigourney Weaver is now the third biggest blockbuster ever at the domestic box office (not taking inflation or higher 3D/IMAX ticket prices into account).
Avatar is less than $30 million behind Christopher Nolan's The Dark Night ($533.3 million) and less than $100 million behind Cameron's own Titanic ($600.7 million).
When you're talking about small movies, $30 million is a staggering figure; Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker, for instance, took in less than half that amount in North America. But when you're talking about mega-blockbusters, $30 million can be a (admittedly, sizable) drop in the bucket.
If Avatar keeps up its pace, it should be ahead of The Dark Knight when weekend estimates are announced next Sunday. And if it keeps on going steadily, it'll be ahead of Titanic well before the end of February.
No. 2 at worldwide box office
Worldwide – not adjusted for inflation or currency exchange variations – Avatar remains the no. 2 movie, with $1.637 billion, as it gets closer and closer to Titanic. The Leonardo DiCaprio-Kate Winslet 2D hit grossed $1.842 billion back in 1998.
At least in part as a result of the U.S. dollar's weakness in most key film markets, more than 69 percent of Avatar's grosses have originated overseas, as revenues coming from other countries represent more in dollar terms. (Needless to say, current exchange rates have also helped to boost the film's worldwide total in U.S. dollars.)
The inflation factor
Now, as I've stated in previous Avatar box office gross posts, things change quite a bit when inflation is added to the box office accounting mix – even while disregarding Avatar's 3D/IMAX premium surcharges that markedly distort the perception of the film's actual popularity (based on the number of tickets sold).
Using annual domestic ticket price “averages” provided by the National Association of Theater Owners, Box Office Mojo estimates that Avatar is now at a relatively modest no. 34 on the all-time domestic box office chart adjusted for inflation – which, though hardly flawless, more accurately reflects domestic ticket sales' rankings.
James Cameron's fantasy adventure is thus found slightly ahead of Sam Raimi-Tobey Maguire's original Spider-Man ($510.7 million in 2002) and a few million dollars behind the Ryan O'Neal-Ali MacGraw melodrama Love Story ($514.4 million in 1970).
Reminder: If 3D/IMAX premium surcharges were included in the calculations to better reflect domestic ticket sales, Avatar would be much further down the list.
'Avatar' to trail 'Sleeping Beauty'?
If Avatar adds another $15 million by Friday, as it quite likely will, it'll land on the inflation-adjusted all-time chart's 30th spot, behind Walt Disney's 1959 animated Sleeping Beauty ($534.1 million).
In addition to Love Story, Avatar will have passed the Robert Redford-Paul Newman Western Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), Ivan Reitman's Ghostbusters (1984), and DreamWorks' animated Shrek 2 (2004).
Other important all-time box office chart factors
Once again, it's worth remembering that those are approximations based on “average” domestic ticket prices. These prices, however, can vary widely depending on where a movie made most of its money, e.g., a top-dollar New York house, in thousands of cheap small-town theaters, at matinees catering to children, or at 3D/IMAX theaters that charge a premium.
It's also worth remembering that population increases, changes in movie-going demographics and film distribution strategies, and the growth of entertainment options (TV, DVD, pay-per-view, the Internet, etc.) should all be taken into consideration when comparing the box office success of movies from different eras.
Now, the role of piracy in terms of how it affects a movie's box office performance remains debatable. It all depends on the type of movie (would you or anyone else rather watch Avatar on your 20 inch computer screen or at a 3D/IMAX movie house?), the quality of the pirated material (high-definition vs. crummy reproductions), and where the film pirating is taking place (Beverly Hills or Lagos? In the latter city, most people who'd buy 50 cent copies of Hollywood flicks wouldn't be able to afford going to the movies anyhow).
'Pagan,' 'racist' & 'anti-American' blockbuster an awards-season favorite
Despite accusations of racism and paganism, plus anti-Americanism and pro-smoking-ism, as mentioned further up in this post, Avatar has been shortlisted by various Hollywood guilds and unions.
On Jan. 17, Avatar took home the 2010 Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture Drama and Best Director. And finally, it'll surely be among the top nominees when the Academy Award nominations are announced on Feb. 2.
Written and directed by James Cameron, besides Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Sigourney Weaver, Avatar features the following:
Stephen Lang. Giovanni Ribisi. CCH Pounder. Joel David Moore. Dileep Rao.
Wes Studi. Michelle Rodriguez. Sean Anthony Moran. Matt Gerald. Sean Patrick Murphy. Laz Alonso.
Weekend box office: 'Avatar' loses battle, but wins war against 'The Book of Eli,' (sort of) beats 'Star Wars'
Jan. 17 update: A 20th Century Fox release, James Cameron's sci-fi/fantasy mix Avatar, toplining Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Sigourney Weaver, held on to the no. 1 spot at the North American box office this weekend (Jan. 15–17), collecting $41.3 million according to official studio estimates. That represents a modest 18 percent drop from a week ago.
Avatar had lost the top spot to new entry The Book of Eli on Friday, but regained momentum on Saturday, eventually winning the weekend race with a remarkable $12,572 average (last week: $14,173) at 3,285 locations. Total to date: $491.7 million.
As predicted, Avatar has passed George Lucas' 1977 sci-fier Star Wars at the domestic box office. Avatar's total domestic gross to date stands at $491.7 million vs. Star Wars' $460.9 million. Cameron's film is now the third biggest blockbuster ever in the U.S. and Canada (not taking inflation and higher 3D/IMAX ticket prices into account).
With $533.3 million, Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight is now within reach of Avatar. In fact, Pandora should be ahead of Gotham City a week from today.
Star Wars features Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Peter Cushing, and Best Supporting Actor nominee Alec Guinness. The Dark Knight stars Christian Bale, Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner Heath Ledger, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Aaron Eckhart.
'The Book of Eli' strong runner-up, Jackie Chan bombs
Trailing Avatar, Albert and Allen Hughes' The Book of Eli had to make do with runner-up status, picking up a still solid $31.6 million at 3,111 locations for an equally solid $10,162 average.
Featuring Best Actor Oscar winner Denzel Washington (Training Day, 2001), Mila Kunis, Jennifer Beals, and Ray Stevenson, the post-apocalyptic action drama follows a man on his solitary journey to protect … a book.
Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones, which earned star Saoirse Ronan the 2010 Best Young Actress Critics Choice Award on Friday, was no. 3 with $17 million after expanding to $2,563 locations. In addition to Ronan, the metaphysical crime thriller stars Mark Wahlberg, Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener, 2005), Stanley Tucci, and Best Actress Oscar winner Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking, 1995).
Brian Levant's The Spy Next Door, along with The Book of Eli one of this weekend's wide releases, landed in an uncomfortably soft sixth place with $9.7 million at 2,924 locations. In the kiddie flick, Jackie Chan plays a spy babysitting his girlfriend's children while trying to protect the brats from a Russian psycho/terrorist combo.
'Sherlock Holmes' succumbs to 'Chipmunks'
Another kiddie flick, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, was no. 4 this weekend, bringing in $11.5 million. Total to date: $192.5 million.
Now trailing the Chipmunks – instead of having them gnawing at his heels as in previous weekends – Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, and Rachel McAdams, was next in line with $9.8 million. The Guy Ritchie-directed adventure flick has reached a cume of $180 million.
Starring two-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep (supporting for Kramer vs. Kramer, 1979; lead for Sophie's Choice, 1982), Nancy Meyers' It's Complicated took in $7.6 million at no. 7 for a total of $88.2 million. Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin costar.
At no. 8, Anand Tucker's Leap Year pulled in $5.8 million. Starring Amy Adams, Matthew Goode, and Adam Scott, the romantic comedy has reached a paltry cume of $17.5 million.
'New Moon' to reach $300 million?
The no. 9 movie was Sandra Bullock's sleeper hit The Blind Side with $5.5 million and a total of $226.7 million. Tim McGraw and Quinton Aaron are Bullock's fellow actors in John Lee Hancock's socially conscious family drama.
Rounding out the Top Ten with $5.4 million was Jason Reitman's well-received Up in the Air, starring likely Best Actor Oscar nominee George Clooney, and likely Best Supporting Actress nominees Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick. Total to date: $62.8 million.
Gone from the Top Ten: Disney's The Princess and the Frog.
Jan. 19 update: On Monday, Jan. 18, Chris Weitz's fantasy The Twilight Saga: New Moon added $205,000 at no. 15 for a total of $292.4 million. The $300 million mark is within reach; perhaps not likely, but not impossible.
And here are next weekend's wide releases:
- Extraordinary Measures with Harrison Ford, Keri Russell, and Brendan Fraser.
- Tooth Fairy with Dwayne Johnson and veteran Julie Andrews (The Sound of Music, Little Miss Marker).
- Legion with Paul Bettany, Lucas Black, and veteran Dennis Quaid (Breaking Away, The Right Stuff).
The end is near? 'The Book of Eli' beats 'Avatar' on Friday
Jan. 16: On Friday, Jan. 15, the day it won six 2010 Critics' Choice Awards including Best Action Movie – for some people, these categories do matter – Avatar was dethroned by The Book of Eli at the domestic box office.
On Day 1, Albert and Allen Hughes' violent, post-apocalyptic tale earned $11.7 million at 3,111 screens; Avatar, for its part, collected $10.4 million at 3,285 venues. Of course, James Cameron's movie starring Sam Worthington has the advantage of higher ticket prices. Its just as obvious disadvantage is that Avatar has been around for 28 days.
'Avatar' vs. 'Star Wars': Battle to the (near-)top
Also worth noting is that on Friday Avatar almost – but almost – became the third biggest grosser ever at the domestic box office (not adjusted for inflation or higher 3D/IMAX ticket prices). Forget environmentally conscious Na'vi vs. greedy, destructive humans. The real battle was between George Lucas' Star Wars with $460.998 million vs. Avatar with $460.867 million.
But rest assured: at some point earlier today, Avatar became the no. 3 highest-grossing movie at the U.S. and Canada box office. And it may become the weekend's biggest grosser as well, depending on how The Book of Eli fares today and tomorrow. Three weeks ago, Avatar trailed Sherlock Holmes on its debut Friday, but Sam Worthington and pals ended up victorious for the three-day weekend.
Unloved 'The Lovely Bones,' 'The Spy Next Door'
And finally, Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones, which earned star Saoirse Ronan the Best Young Actress Critics Choice Award last night, was no. 3 after expanding to 2,563 screens.
Previously considered one of the top contenders in the 2010 Oscar race, Jackson's supernatural crime/family drama failed to find much favor among critics. Even so, the film scored a – relatively speaking – respectable $5.7 million.
At no. 6, new entry The Spy Next Door can officially be considered a bomb, having earned only $2.4 million at 2,924 screens. Jackie Chan stars.
Oscar history-maker Sigourney Weaver
 Veteran Sigourney Weaver (Eyewitness, Aliens), by the way, is a three-time Academy Award nominee:
- Best Actress for James Cameron's Aliens (1986).
Winner: Marlee Matlin for Randa Haines' Children of a Lesser God.
- Best Actress for Michael Apted's Gorillas in the Mist (1988).
Winner: Jodie Foster for Jonathan Kaplan's The Accused.
- Best Supporting Actress for Mike Nichols' Working Girl (1988).
Winner: Geena Davis for Lawrence Kasdan's The Accidental Tourist.
In 1988, Sigourney Weaver became only the fourth performer to receive a double Oscar nomination in the acting categories (following Fay Bainter, 1938; Teresa Wright, 1942; and Barry Fitzgerald, for the same performance, 1944).
Also in 1988, Weaver made Academy Award history of sorts by becoming the first double Oscar loser in the acting categories.
Saoirse Ronan The Lovely Bones image: Barry Wetcher / DreamWorks / Paramount.
Sam Worthington Avatar image: Mark Fellman / 20th Century Fox.
Zoe Saldana Avatar image: WETA / 20th Century Fox.
Denzel Washington The Book of Eli image: David Lee / Warner Bros.