Blue Aliens Still See Green in Weekend Box Office Results

The North American box office stayed strong for the second weekend of 2010 based on early estimates. Although three new wide releases, the first of the decade, yielded mild-to-decent ticket sales, they failed to dislodge the trio of Christmas holdovers that continue to dominate ticket sales.

For the fourth weekend in a row, the first film to sit at the top spot for that length of time since The Dark Knight, James Cameron’s 3-D epic Avatar, led all other films by hauling in an estimated $48.5 million from 3,422 screens for a new domestic take of approximately $429 million. Whereas most films saw understandable post-holiday drops of 50% or more, the Na’vi tale saw only a drop of roughly 29%. If Avatar can keep up this pace, it has a solid chance of passing Knight’s $533 million domestic gross.

Globally, Avatar passed The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King this past week to become the second highest-grossing film of all time (pre-inflation). With no real competition on the horizon, it is a safe bet that 20th Century Fox’s pricey sci-fi film will continue at the top spot for at least another two weekends if not longer.

The films occupying spots two and three were also repeats. Second place went to Warner’s Sherlock Holmes with an estimated $16.6 million from 3,626 screens and a new total of $165.1 million. Dropping a little over 54% from the previous weekend, the Robert Downey Jr.-starrer should finish somewhere near the $200 million milestone. Third went to Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel. The wise-cracking rodents grabbed another $16.3 million in estimated ticket sales bringing its total near the $178 million mark. The film’s final gross should wind up close to the original’s $217 take from two years ago.

Fourth place went to the new horror film Daybreakers with $15 million in estimated sales for its first three days. The moderately well-reviewed genre flick opened better than expected but is playing like other films in its genre by opening strongly on Friday and dropping each successive day after that. Next weekend will show whether the film was the recipient of positive viewer word-of-mouth or not.

Fifth and sixth place are occupied by a pair of Universal comedies, one new and one older. It’s Complicated pulled in another $11 million to bring its estimated take to the $76 million mark. The $100 million mark is still a strong possibility for the Meryl Streep/Alec Baldwin comedy. Sixth spot went to the new Amy Adams romantic comedy Leap Year which leapt to a mild $9 million gross from 2,511 screens. Perhaps the poorly-reviewed film might have done a bit better had the studio not showed the entire story in the film’s commercials.

Warner’s other late 2009 hit, the unstoppable football drama The Blind Side, landed in seventh place to add another $7.5 million to its take for an estimated gross of $219 million to date. The much-loved film should sprint by the $250 million mark in the next few weeks, aided by an Oscar nomination or two (including Best Actress and Picture). In eighth place was Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air with an estimated $7.1 million take and a new cume of $54.7 million. The film has been performing somewhat steadily since its wide expansion on Christmas Day and should also see a healthy spike in sales once the Oscar nominations are announced.

In ninth is the new Michael Cera comedy Youth In Revolt with a moderate $7 million from 1,873 screens in its debut. The R-rated laughfest should find a bigger audience when it revolts on home video in a few months. Rounding out the top ten is Disney’s animated The Princess and the Frog with a $4.7 million estimated take and a new to-date take of $93 million.

The complete estimated top 10 box office results for January 8-10, 2010 are as follows:

  • 1. Avatar: $48.5m
  • 2. Sherlock Holmes: $16.6m
  • 3. Alvin and the Chipmunks 2: $16.3m
  • 4. Daybreakers: $15m
  • 5. It’s Complicated: $11m
  • 6. Leap Year: $9.2m
  • 7. The Blind Side: $7.8m
  • 8. Up in the Air: $7.1m
  • 9. Youth in Revolt: $7m
  • 10. The Princess and the Frog: $4.7m

Next week, Denzel Washington returns to screens with The Book of Eli, Jackie Chan hopes to pull in family audiences with The Spy Next Door and Peter Jackson’s troubled adaptation of The Lovely Bones will finally go wide after a month of limited release.

-Shawn Fitzgerald

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