The question is no longer when "Avatar" will topple "Titanic's" $600 million domestic box office record, the question is how high will it go?
After conquering the Golden Globes this weekend, James Cameron's blockbuster found another $54 million at the box office over the Martin Luther King Day weekend for a new estimated domestic total of $505 million. With little competition on the horizon, it should surpass "The Dark Knight's" $535 million mark within a week and "Titanic's" $600 million mark by February. Of course, 3-D screens mean tickets prices are much higher than what even fueled "Dark Knight's" success a year ago, but the Sci-Fi flick could still equal "Titanic's" admissions when all is said in done. $700? $750 million total? Even Fox won't guess where "Avatar" will end up when all is said and done.
Among other releases, Denzel Washington's "The Book of Eli" grossed $38 million over the 3-day. That's a strong start for the $80 million budgeted post-apocalyptic thriller. It could end up with between $80-95 million for Alcon Entertainment and Warner Bros. and proves Washington still has some box office draw left in the tank after the disappointing results of "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3" this past summer.
Expanding better than many expected was "The Lovely Bones." After a weak Friday, the Peter Jackson thriller had a stronger Saturday and good Sunday to discover $20 million over the four day weekend. Recouping the film's reported $100 million budget will still be difficult, but the picture is certainly not the disaster some were labeling it. However, you can argue Paramount could have done more by placing Mark Wahlberg more at the forefront of the marketing campaign and not focusing the material just on young girls.
Fourth place went to that pesky "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel." As one of the few family films in the market, the Fox hit found another $15 million for a new total of $196 million. Expect a third installment very soon. The new kiddie entry this weekend was Jackie Chan's "The Spy Next Door" which did an OK $13 million over the holiday which was probably in line with Lionsgate's expectations.
Among other notable releases, "Sherlock Homes" hit $181 million, "It's Complicated" is at $89 million, "The Princess and the Frog" has found $97 million, "Precious" is at $44 million, "Nine" is at $18 million ("The Producers" may out gross it at this point) and "Up in the Air" has landed with $64 million so far.
New releases this Friday include "Legion," "Extraordinary Measures" and "The Tooth Fairy."