SUNDAY AM WRITETHRU: It’s official: 20th Century Fox’s week-old Avatar fell behind Friday, but was back on top Saturday, and easily beat Warner Bros’ newcomer Sherlock Holmes for No. 1 this 3-day Christmas weekend in North American theaters. As usual, the Hollywood box office experts (who had predicted this to me last week but I doubted them) were right on the money. Avatar‘s take was $23.5M Friday and $28.5M Saturday for the $75M weekend with Sunday’s estimate. As for Sherlock Holmes‘ numbers, the Guy Ritchie directed mystery thriller with Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law made $24.8M Friday and $22.5M Saturday for a slightly less than expected $66M weekend –though Sherlock is playing in 170 more theaters than Avatar, 3,626 vs 3,456.
The 3D technopic’s higher ticket prices made up the difference and more. The contest wasn’t even close after Friday looked like a nailbiter, especially after Sherlock consistently was tracking big because of the good word-of-mouth buzz. Sherlock had the best Christmas Day debut ever (beating Marley And Me from last year and its Christmas Day single-day debut of $14.675M). It’s also a badly needed hit for producer Joel Silver after studio boss Jeff Robinov took a big chance putting him on the project after all of Joel’s recent bombs. Warner Bros domestic grosses crossed $2 billion Saturday, breaking the industry record of $1.789B set by the studio last year. And there’s still more days of holiday play time left to fatten the record.
Updated numbers from overseas for Avatar show James Cameron’s big budget epic has made at least $212.2M domestic, $405M foreign (after taking in $145M from 14,844 screens in 108 countries this weekend), for a new cume of $617M worldwide. IMAX broke all its records as the giant format earned $12.1 million globally this weekend alone. Avatar‘s weekend result comes despite theater closures in many markets on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The film is #1 in 107 of 108 markets (#2 in India, behind a local title). Avatar is already the biggest Fox title off all-time in Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam.
Meanwhile, with 2009 total box office already over $10.3 billion, Hollywood just keeps breaking records at the box office. (Though none are adjusted for inflation, ticket prices, etc.) This was the top grossing weekend of all time as Friday-Saturday-Sunday (estimated) looks to make $278M, which easily smashes the previous record of $260.8M held by July 18th-20th, 2008 when pics like The Dark Knight, Hancock, Mamma Mia, Hellboy 2, and Journey To The Center Of The Earth, were playing. The fact that Christmas Day landed on a Friday this year certainly boosted the entire industry since Friday is the second biggest movie-going day of the week. The total single-day gross for all films on Friday is estimated at a record-breaking $91M, easily besting last year’s $75M Christmas day single-day Thursday gross.
Asw for other films, Fox’s Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel opened big Wednesday then showed a huge Saturday matinee bounce. It debuted with a $50.2M weekend and a $77M five-day holiday. Overseas, Alvin 2 made $36.5M from 6,482 screens in 22 markets. (That’s 261% of the Alvin 1 opening in the same markets.)
Universal’s battle of the (s)exes It’s Complicated from Nancy Meyers opened Christmas Day with a respectable amount for an adult comedy. Based on the pattern of her previous films and the weekend’s heated competition, the studio thought a debut in the high teens was only possible but it managed $22.1M. The pic received a CinemaScore of “A-”. Exit polling showed the audience was 72% female, and 75% over the age of 30. Problem is this movie was greenlit for a ridiculous $80M budget by Uni’s previous management (Marc Shmuger and David Linde were fired this fall) so don’t expect the people in charge now to do handstands, especially after what’s been a lousy year for the studio.
There was a race for No. 5 between George Clooney and Sandra Bullock. But Paramount’s expanded release of Up In The Air finished with $11.75M while Warner Bros’ six-week holdover The Blind Side ended with $11.73M.
The Weinstein Co’s Nine was the miss of this weekend: only $5.5M after expanding into 1,412 theaters when Hollywood was expecting at least $9M. Seriously, who did Harvey think would see this very sexy (therefore very heterosexual) musical? Though it grabbed Golden Globe nominations, it can’t grab an audience which may hurt it come Oscars. What a miscalculation, especially when many other TWC films were put on hold to focus on it.
Here’s the Top 10:
1. Avatar (Fox) Week 2 – Cume $212.2M
Wed $16.4M [3,456 runs], Thurs $11.3M, Fri $23.5M, Sat $28.5M, Wkd $75M
2. Sherlock Holmes (Warner Bros) NEW
Fri $24.8M [3,626], Sat $22.5M, Wkd $65.3M
3. Alvin & Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (Fox) NEW – Cume $77M
Wed $19M [3,700], Thurs $8M (-57%), Fri $14.5M, Sat $20.4M, Wkd $50.2M
4. It’s Complicated (Universal) NEW
Fri $7.5M [2,886], Sat $8.4M, Wkd $22.1M
5. Up In The Air (Paramount) Week 4 – Cume $24.5M
Wed $1.7M [1,895], Thurs $1.7M, Fri $3.6M, Sat $4.3M, Wkd $11.75M
6. Blind Side (Alcon/Warner Bros) Week 6 – Cume $184.3M
Wed $2.2M [2,766 runs], Thurs $1.5M, Fri $3.3M, Sat $4.3M, Wkd $11.73M
7. Princess And The Frog (Disney) Week 5 – Cume $63.3M
Wed $2.4M [3,475 runs], Thurs $1.4M, Fri $2.02M, Sat $3.9M, Wkd $8.6M
8. Nine (The Weinstein Co) Week 2 – Cume $5.9M
Fri $2.05M [1,412], Sat $1.8M, Wkd $5.5M
9. Did You Hear About The Morgans? (Sony) Week 2 – Cume $15.5M
Wed $1.0M [2,718], Thurs $665K, Fri $1.5M, Sat $1.9M, Wkd $5M
10. Invictus (Warner Bros) Week 3 – Cume $23.3M
Wed $800K [2,160], Thurs $705K, Fri $1.3M, Sat $1.6M, Wkd $4.3M
3 Idiots (Big Pictures) NEW – Cume $2.1M
Fri $655M , Sat $525K, Wkd $1.6M
Brothers (Relativity/Lionsgate) Week 3 – Cume $25.3M
Fri $400K , Sat $460K, Wkd $1.2M
Precious (Lionsgate) Week 8 – Cume $41.7M
Fri $217K , Sat $220K, Wkd $830K
The Young Victoria (Apparition) Week 2 – Cume $886K
Fri $174K , Wkd $603K
The Road (The Weinstein Co) Week 5 – Cume $5.8M
Fri $120K , Sat $178K, Wkd $429K
Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (Sony Classics) NEW
Fri $117K , Wkd $129M
Fantastic Mr. Fox (Fox) Week 7 – Cume $18.3M
Fri $106K , Sat $147K, Wkd $365K
A Single Man (The Weinstein Co) Week 3 – Cume $891K
Fri $96K , Sat $130K, Wkd $323K
Crazy Heart (Fox Searchlight) Week 2 – Cume $320K
Fri $54K , Sat $55.1K, Wkd $156K
Lovely Bones (Paramount) Week 3 – Cume $273K
Fri $13K , Sat $14K, Wkd $38K
Editor-in-Chief Nikki Finke - tip her here.