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Box-Office Report #1: Weekend of January 15-18, 2010

As expected, Avatar was king over Martin Luther King weekend, bringing in $54.4 million and pulling ahead of the $500 million mark, a milestone reached by only two other motion pictures in history, James Cameron's own Titanic and 2008's The Dark Knight. Not only did Avatar break $500 million this weekend, it reached it in an astounding 32 days, breaking the record previously held by The Dark Knight, which took 45 days to earn the same amount of money. In the process, it also shattered the record for the biggest fifth weekend gross, which had previously belonged to Titanic with $30 million, and became the first film since 1999's The Sixth Sense to retain the #1 spot at the box-office for 5 consecutive weekends. It also posted the biggest MLK weekend gross ever, eclipsing the $46.1 million grossed by Cloverfield in 2008. From Friday through Sunday, Avatar grossed $42.8 million, down only 14.9% from last weekend's intake of $50.3 million.

Avatar also grossed an additional $128.5 million internationally in 111 markets, raising its international total to $1.2 billion and its worldwide total to $1.6 billion, trailing only Titanic's $1.8 billion by less than $220 million, an amount that should easily be covered within the next 2 weeks.

Coming in second was WB's post-apocalyptic action thriller The Book of Eli, which grossed $38.4 million over 4 days. Its 3-day Friday through Sunday intake of $32.7 million was the third largest January opening in history, trailing only 2008's Cloverfield and 1997's re-release of Star Wars, which grossed $40.1 million and $35.9 million respectively. Eli also marked the second best debut in Denzel Washington's career, following 2007's American Gangster, which bowed with $43.6 million.

Peter Jackson's adaptation of Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones took third place this weekend, earning $17 million between  Friday and Sunday and $19.9 million through Monday. It marks the worst opening weekend in Peter Jackson's post-Lord of the Rings career, making less than a third as much as his last directorial effort, 2005's King Kong, earned in its opening weekend and less than half as much as last summer's District 9, which Jackson produced.

Jackie Chan's family geared action-comedy, The Spy Next Door, tanked with a paltry $12.8 million over four days, earning less than one third as much as  Paul Blart: Mall Cop generated over the same weekend last year. The film, which was heavily marketed as a lame rip-off of Disney's The Pacifier, was expected to earn twice as much this weekend, but received toxic reviews from the critics and should die quietly after its disappointing opening weekend.

Among the holdovers, two films, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel and Sherlock Holmes, managed to remain in the top 5 over the three-day weekend, although Sherlock Holmes slipped to #6 over the four-day frame. Alvin dipped 29.9% Friday through Sunday, making $11.6 million, although it earned $15.3 million through Monday, raising its North American cume to $196 million. Holmes made $9.9 million between Friday and Sunday and $12 million through Monday. It's domestic cume stands at $182.2 million.

Rounding out the top 10 this weekend were It's Complicated with $9.6 million, Leap Year with $7.1 million, The Blind Side with $7 million, and Up in the Air with $6.5 million. Daybreakers, which debuted at #4 last weekend, plummeted to eleventh place with $5.2 million over the three-day weekend, falling 65.8%. Over the four-day weekend, it earned $6.1 million, raising its total to $25.3 million.

Weekend totals (January 15-18, 2010)

  1. Avatar - $54.4 million (Total: $504.8 million)
  2. The Book of Eli - $38.4 million (NEW)
  3. The Lovely Bones- $19.9 million (Total: $20.4 million)
  4. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel - $15.3 million (Total: $196.4 million)
  5. The Spy Next Door - $12.9 million (NEW)
  6. Sherlock Holmes - $12.0 million (Total: $182.2 million)
  7. It's Complicated - $9.6 million (Total: $90.2 million)
  8. Leap Year - $7.1 million (Total: $18.8 million)
  9. The Blind Side - $7.0 million (Total: $228.2 million)
  10. Up in the Air - $6.5 million (Total: $63.9 million)
  11. Daybreakers- $6.1 million (Total: $25.3 million)
  12. The Princess and the Frog- $4.0 million (Total: $97.5 million)
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