FRIDAY AM UPDATE: Here’s the new Top 10 including the New Year’s Eve take. Overall box office Thursday was an estimated $52.1M:

1. AVATAR (Fox) [3,456 runs] Week 2
Wed $18.5M (+1), Thurs $14.9M (-19%), Cume $283.8
2. ALVIN SQUEAKQUEL (Fox) [3,700] Week 2
Wed $11.8M (-6%), Thurs $8.7M (-26%), Cume $120.7M
3. SHERLOCK HOLMES (Warner Bros) [3,626] Week 1
Wed $9.7M (-5%), Thurs $8.7M (-10%), Cume $102.3M
4. IT’S COMPLICATED (Warner Bros) [2,887] Week 1
Wed $4.4M (+3%), Thurs $5.3M (+22%), Cume $40.3M
5. THE BLIND SIDE (Warner Bros) [2,766] Week 7
Wed $3M (+2%), Thurs $3.4M (+13%), Cume $196.4M
6. UP IN THE AIR (Paramount) [1,895] Week 5
Wed $2.3M (+3%), Thurs $2.8M (+23%), Cume $33.6M
7. PRINCESS & THE FROG (Disney) [3,475] Week 6
Wed $3.3M (-1%), Thurs $2.6M (-21%), Cume $76M
8. MORGANS? (Sony) [2,718] Week 3
Wed $1.2M (-1%), Thurs $1.3M (+8%), Cume $20.4M
9. INVICTUS (Warner Bros) [2,160] Week 3
Wed $895K (+3%), Thurs $988K (+10%), Cume $26.6M
10. NINE (The Weinstein Co) [1,412] Week 3
Wed $1M (-1%), Thurs $864K (-15%), Cume $9.8M

avatar narrowTHURSDAY PM UPDATE: Who woulda thunk it? (End of sarcasm…) Adding Wednesday’s estimated North American gross of $18.4M, Avatar‘s new domestic cume is now a staggering $268.8M after only 13 days in release. It’s been averaging $18M a day. Avatar‘s international for Wednesday was $36.9M, down only 6% from Tuesday, making the foreign cume now $525.3M. So the worldwide total ending Wednesday was $794.1M. It has now crossed $800M today. Yowza!

Overall, today’s box office should be very good and tomorrow should be huge. In fact, Friday should be about the same as last week’s Christmas Day. That’s according to my box office gurus who once again I need to thank for another year of accurate film forecasts (except for those sleepers that shocked the hell out of all of Hollywood). Saturday and Sunday will then look normal. Saturday could be down 30% from last week and Sunday down 45% from last week. So overall this weekend could be down about 25% from Christmas weekend. The exception will probably be Warner Bros’ Sherlock Holmes which fell alot from Friday to Saturday last week and will be fighting Fox’s Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel for 2nd place in the $40M range.

Rival studios think Avatar could do $55M-$60M and maybe even $65M this weekend. But 20th Century Fox conservatively anticipates the number in the $50M neighborhood. Nevertheless, the studio boasts that James Cameron’s big budget technopic will end 2009 as the #2 grossing domestic film. “And there’s a whole lot of gross still to come in 2010. This rocket ship still has loads of fuel in its tanks!” a Fox exec reminds me. Even rival studios tell me they expect Avatar cume to hit $335M domestic by end of Sunday. “Cameron looks like he’ll rank #1-#2 with Titanic,” a Fox competitor emailed.

So it’s no wonder that, with today being the last box office opportunity of 2009, this final week will post record numbers with nearly $500 million in revenue generated from December 25 through December 31. Overall, 2009 is looking at $10.6 billion box office, up 10.07% from 2008. Hollywood numbers guru Paul Dergarabedian is also reporting that attendance figures are the highest in the past 5 years at 1.42 billion tickets sold at an average price of $7.46.

Hollywood.com box:


Hollywood box office 2009

For more estimates listed by title, see box office results here...

Editor-in-Chief Nikki Finke - tip her here.