Record Breaking Holiday Box Office Led By ‘Avatar’

Picture 1Seems that film studios received plenty of holiday cheer this past holiday weekend. Audiences flocked to a myriad of movies, which resulted in the highest grossing domestic box office on record. When the dust had cleared, a massive $278 Million had been earned at the box office, which bested the previous record ($260.8 Million) set by The Dark Knight opening weekend in July 2008. The top three films alone grossed over $190 Million, an astonishing number.

Avatar has many prognosticators eating crow, as it dropped only a few percentage points from its opening total and made about $75 Million, earning a solid first place finish. Its 10 day total now stands at $212 Million, and worldwide, the film has made over $617 Million! At this point, there is little question it will earn its purported $300-$500 Million budget back.  After months of speculation, Fox studio heads can finally exhale a sigh of relief.

Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes also fared well, and made over $65 Million its opening weekend. Robert Downey Jr. continues to prove he is a major box office draw. Fox also saw Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel place in the top three with $50 Million. The adult comedy Its Complicated earned a respectable $22 Million on just under 2,900 screens.

Rounding out the top five was Up in the Air.  The movie is slowly expanding and played on about 1,900 screens, earning around $11 Million.  This brings its cumulative total to $24.5 Million. As Oscar buzz continues to build, watch for this movie to stick around for a while. The Blind Side, The Princess and the Frog, Nine, Did You Hear About the Morgans?, and Invictus completed the top ten this week.

Nine is notable because Rob Marshall’s follow up to the massive 2002 hit Chicago ($170 Million at the box office)  limped in at only $5.5 Million on 1,400 screens for a dismal $3,900 per screen average. Quite frankly, I am surprised. Although it has suffered from bad reviews, we have seen time and time again that many movies are critic-proof (see Alvin and the Chipmunks above, for one.)

Several of us here at the site really liked it, and I thought that the combined star power of Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Kate Hudson, Marion Cotillard, Daniel Day Lewis, Sophia Loren, Fergie, and Judi Dench would count for something. However, I think we are seeing the end of an era where star power alone pulls a movie.

Despite Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman, Invictus has only grossed $23.3 Million in 3 weeks, and Did You Hear About the Morgans?, with Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant only managed $5 Million in its second week in release. These are not little independent films, these are major releases. While Did You Hear About the Morgans? got largely negative reviews, that was hardly the case with Invictus.

Next week there are no new wide releases, so we’ll continue to watch the current slate duke it out.

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