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Box-Office Preview #3: Weekend of January 22-24, 2010

Heading into the weekend, Avatar will attempt to become the first film since Titanic to remain at the top of the box-office for six consecutive weekends. Facing soft competition from three new releases, it should not be too difficult a task for it to manage.

The toughest competition that Avatar will face this weekend will almost certainly be 20th Century Fox's Tooth Fairy, starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as a minor league hockey player who, after crushing a young fan's dreams, is sentenced to one week of hard labor as the fabled Tooth Fairy. Hack director Michael Lembeck has tread these high-concept waters before, having directed the last two pictures in Disney's The Santa Clause franchise, and Dwayne Johnson has a proven track record in family movies after the success of The Game Plan and  Race to Witch Mountain. Although the film has received unanimously awful reviews, critical reception matters very little to these sorts of films and it should have no problem clearing $20 million this weekend, which should be enough for a second place finish.

Avatar, however, will be going for box-office history this weekend by breaking several records. First, it should easily  set a new record for the biggest sixth weekend gross of all-time. The current record belongs to Titanic with $25.2 million, and I believe that Avatar will gross over $35 million this weekend. Second, it should become the first film since Titanic to sit atop the box-office charts for six consecutive weekends (although I seriously doubt that it will break Titanic's record of 15 consecutive weekends). Finally, it will easily blow past The Dark Knight's final box-office gross of $533.3 million and become the second highest grossing North American release of all-time. It should also gross an additional $120 million overseas as it inches its way closer to Titanic's all-time box-office record.

Coming in third place should be last weekend's #2 film, The Book of Eli, which should see nice drop of under 45%. Although Denzel Washington's post-Apocalyptic thriller received mixed reviews from the critics, it enjoyed some nice exit polling numbers and is a strong contender to become the first $100 million grosser of 2010. The film should gross between $17-20 million this weekend, raising its box-office cume to above $60 million.  However, it will be facing competition from Legion, another Apocalyptic thriller with religious overtones.  The film stars Paul Bettany as the archangel Michael who, after getting himself kicked out of Heaven, must protect a group of humans in a New Mexico diner from an oncoming apocalypse as God tries to exterminate humanity with an army of angels. Legion, which has received some of the worst reviews of the past 365 days, should gross a meager $10-12 million this weekend, with most film-goers opting to watch the similarly themed (and better reviewed) Eli instead of wasting their money on this crap.

Rounding out the top 5 will be Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones, which I think will drop under 35% this weekend and claim around $11-12 million. I'm also expecting a nice hold from Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, which I think will make around $8-9 million. This will be more than enough to push it past the $200 million milestone.

Also opening this weekend is CBS Films' Extraordinary Measures, the first theatrical release from the television network since 1981's Back Roads. The medical drama, starring Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser, looks like your typical TV-movie-of-the-week fare and should be of little interest to audiences who will have so many other options to choose from this weekend. The film has received awful reviews and Harrison Ford has not been a box-office draw for nearly 10 years, so I expect the film to open with a less-than-stellar $7-8 million.

The final three spots of this weekend's top 10 will go to Sherlock Holmes, It's Complicated, and The Spy Next Door.

Weekend predictions (January 22-24, 2010)

  1. Avatar - $36.7 million
  2. Tooth Fairy- $22.3 million (NEW)
  3. The Book of Eli - $18.8 million
  4. Legion- $12.8 million (NEW)
  5. The Lovely Bones- $11.2 million
  6. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel - $8.3 million
  7. Extraordinary Measures- $7.6 million (NEW)
  8. Sherlock Holmes- $5.7 million
  9. It's Complicated - $5.7 million
  10. The Spy Next Door- $4.4 million
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