Hot on 'Avatar''s big blue heels is Guy Richie's 'Sherlock Holmes' with a three-day estimate of $65.4 million, and 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel,' which will fill finish with about $50.2 million over three days and $77.3 million since its jump-start on Wednesday morning. With a $75 million second weekend for James Cameron's 'Avatar' leading the way, Christmas weekend is on pace to break the all-time three-day weekend record of $268 million set last July when new release 'The Dark Knight' led its pack with an opening weekend gross of $154.4 million all by itself. The new record is an estimated $278 million.
Hot on 'Avatar''s big blue heels is Guy Richie's 'Sherlock Holmes' with a three-day estimate of $65.4 million, and 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel,' which will fill finish with about $50.2 million over three days and $77.3 million since its jump-start on Wednesday morning.
People were really in the mood for a movie over the holiday weekend and they had plenty of great choices. Nancy Meyers' new romantic comedy 'It's Complicated' is on its way to a three-day opening of $22.1 million, while an expanded 'Up in the Air' will take in about $11.8 million from 1,895 theaters. Below them, in sixth and seven places, are 'The Blind Side' and 'The Princess and the Frog,' which are continuing to do well with estimates of $11.7 million and $8.7 million respectively.
The weekend's only loser, it would seem, is Rob Marshall's 'Nine,' an $80 million adaptation of a Broadway musical that was itself based on the classic 1963 Federico Fellini autobiographical film '8-1/2.' Getting almost no help from critics, 'Nine' slow-danced its way to an eighth-place finish and $5.5 million in ticket sales. But with the news of an all-time weekend box office heaped on the earlier news that 2009's ticket sales had exceeded $10 billion for the first time, 'Nine' producer Harvey Weinstein may not be the only one in the business needing a fainting couch.
With 2009 having already surpassed the $10 billion mark in total grosses for the first time, the question to be answered Monday morning, when official weekend totals are released, is whether those movies below the top 10 will have filled enough seats to push the record record total past $300 million. Harvey Weinstein, who had hung his Oscar hopes on 'Nine,' is not the only one in the business who may need a fainting couch.
It's hard to remember a non-summer period with as many blockbusters in theaters at the same time. 'Avatar' should gross more than $400 million by the time it's through and surpass the $402 million earned by the current '09 box office leader, 'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.' 'Sherlock Holmes,' in which Holmes and partner Dr. Watson are transformed themselves, from meticulous, middle-age clue trackers to ab-packed action super-heroes (played by Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law), is bound for the $150-million plus stratosphere, as is the 'Alvin and the Chipmunks' sequel.
The Sandra Bullock sports drama 'The Blind Side' has now grossed nearly $185 million and will finish among the half-dozen or more $200 million winners in the year-end Top 10. Bullock, an improbable Oscar contender six weeks ago, now seems a near certainty for a Best Actress nomination.
Though it slipped out of the Top 10 for the first time since its Nov. 20 opening, 'The Twilight Saga: New Moon' is still draining blood from the necks of swooning die-hard women. In only 1,593 theaters now, the vampire film is expected to top $3 million this weekend, good enough for 11th place. And its cumulative total of $281 million has it ensconced in fourth place on the year's Top 10.
'Disney's A Christmas Carol' never fully launched with a chart-topping weekend, but it's done steady business since its early November opening and is well over the $100 million mark. In 12th place on this weekend's chart, the latest version of the Dickens classic now has a running total of $137.2 million. With school out for another week and no wide releases scheduled until Jan. 8, 'Avatar' and the other Christmas hits will continue to fill theaters well into the New Year.
It's long been a cliche that movies can survive any threat -- from the technological advents of radio, TV, videogames and MP3 players, and from the historical tragedies of wars and recessions. But to be setting box office records in the midst of this recession, in the midst of two wars, with ticket prices at astronomical highs, and with wide-screen TVs and surround sound in seemingly every family home ... well, Edison got this invention right,
1. 'Avatar,' 3,456 theaters, $75 million. Total: $212.3 million.
2. 'Sherlock Holmes,' 3,626, $65.4 million.
3. 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel,' 3,700, $65.4 million. Total: $77.1 million.
4. 'It's Complicated,' 2,886, $22.1 million.
5. 'Up in the Air,' 1,895, $11.8 million. Total: $24.5 million.
6. 'The Blind Side,' 2,765, $11.7 million. Total: $184.4 million.
7. 'The Princess and the Frog,' 3,475, $8.7 million. Total: $63.4 million.
8. 'Nine,' 1,412, $5.5 million.
9. 'Did You Hear About the Morgans?' 2,718, $5 million. Total: $16 million.
10. 'Invictus,' 2,160, $4.4 million. Total: $23.4 million.