1. Avatar - $36M - $552.8M
2. Legion - $18.8M - $18.8M
3. The Book of Eli - $14.2M - $62M
4. The Tooth Fairy - $14.5M - $14.5M
5. The Lovely Bones - $8.8M - $31.6M
6. Sherlock Holmes - $7.1M - $191.5M
7. Extraordinary Measures - $7M - $7M
8. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel - $6.7M - $204.2M
9. It's Complicated - $6.1M - $98.6M
10. The Spy Next Door - $4.7M - $18.6M
Avatar faces off against three new films and remains triumphant yet again. There's little left to be said at this stage, we're simply waiting for it to overtake Titanic's $600M/$1.8B and become the biggest film in box office history. It's Friday take was down just 20% on the same time last week, which is in itself impressive, more so when you consider it was a holiday weekend leading to slightly inflated numbers. Lest we forget, this is also a film in its sixth weekend - and in recent memory only Titanic has stayed in the top spot for more consecutive weekends (it managed a stunning fifteen). Saturday saw Avatar surpass The Dark Knight's $533M so from here on out, only Titanic matters (it almost goes without saying that the film's sixth weekend take is the biggest of any sixth weekend).
Internationally the film is just as strong and again, edges closer and closer to the global total of Titanic ($1.8B). Next weekend marks the return of Mel Gibson with Edge of Darkness, a film which some suspect could finally topple Avatar thanks to it being a new film with a returning major star; Not forgetting that Avatar will be in it seventh weekend by then and if it's off by 20% on this weekend's take, Darkness will need only $28M to take the top spot. If Avatar manages the global record by next weekend (a very strong chance) it'll still take all the headlines anyway. If not, it's simply a matter of when, rather than if. As things stand at this point, Avatar trails Titanic domestically by $48M, and internationally by just $97M.
Our first challenger this week is the Paul Bettany end-of-the-world horror thriller Legion. Bettany stars Michael, an angel who defies God's plan to destroy mankind and travels to earth to protect what could be its only saviour. Holed up in a diner with rag-tag group which includes Dennis Quaid, the scene is set for an apocalyptical showdown. The film opened well Friday, though not well enough to surpass Avatar, but as we saw with The Book of Eli, the initial front loading led to a slower Saturday and Sunday. The good thing for Legion is that its budget is unlikely to be more than $30-40M and with a fair wind the film should just about recoup the figure. Obviously it was affected by Avatar and the second frame of The Book of Eli didn't help matters either, but given that it was expected to be firmly trounced by the family film The Tooth Fairy, Legion proved it had some fight and performed well. As a side note, Bettany enjoyed working with direct Scott Stewart so much that he signed up to play a vampire killer in his next film, Priest, which is due in August.
The Book of Eli looked to be the best shot at dethroning Avatar but some front loading last Friday put paid to that. This weekend its drop has been an okayish 48% and that's up against the existing competition plus the direct competition provided by Legion. Eli should still recoup its production budget based on its US take but how much more it'll see is questionable, there is a slim chance of it seeing $100M. This is more in line with the previous Washington releases The Inside Man and Man on Fire, with his biggest release being American Gangster (which also marked his biggest opening weekend too). Internationally the film should see similar figures to its domestic ones and this will end up being a success on DVD as well. A solid, if somewhat unremarkable return for the Hughes Brothers.
Dwayne Johnson has had some mixed results with his film choices. Last year's Escape to Witch Mountain finished with $67M and 2007's The Game Plan saw the best return for a film in which he was the lead actor (outside of The Scorpion King) - $90M Unfortunately, he saw $40M with Planet 51, $38M with Gridiron Gang and just $28M with Doom. This weekend's Tooth Fairly is already looking likely to finish in Gridiron Gang territory. Johnson plays a hard-nosed hockey player famed for knocking out the teeth of his opponents. When he discourages a youngster he finds himself tasked as the 'real' Tooth Fairy for a week, complete with wings, tutu and a teeth-collection duties. Alvin & The Chipmunks had the family market sewn up since Christmas (Just ask The Princess & The Frog) so new blood was generally going to win the family vote when it appeared, however, given the fact it finished up fourth and not second does not bode well for The Tooth Fairy's long term appeal. It'll need a decent hold next weekend and while it won't face major competition until mid-February, but it's unlikely the film will be in the top ten by that point.
After a better than expected expansion last weekend, The Lovely Bones struggles with a 48% drop, worryingly high for a drama. For some reason, last weekend a number of box office sites were reporting its budget as being close to $100M. A week later and it's been revealed that its budget is a much more acceptable (and easier to obtain) $65M. Bones is far from out of the woods yet and will already be looking to help from the international market to shore things up. Things for the Peter Jackson adaptation haven't panned out quite how Dreamworks had hoped, with limited box office and almost zero award talk save for Stanley Tucci.
Sherlock Holmes, facing competition from Legion, Eli and Avatar, digs in and hopes for the best, knowing that at this point it has little to prove. Having doubled its production budget from its US tally alone, Holmes should end up being a very profitable success for Warner Bros. Word filtered through in the last week that Downey Jnr dropped out of Cowboys & Aliens to work on a Holmes sequel during the summer/autumn.
Our final new entry this weekend is the little-hyped Extraordinary Measures, starring Brendan Fraser and Harrison Ford. The true life story sees Fraser as the father of a child with a life-threatening disease who turns to Ford's unconventional doctor for a break-through cure. Comparisons with Lorenzo's Oil are unavoidable but reviews for Extraordinary Measures are anything like the aforementioned film. It may be the highest rated new release but with just a 27% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes, that's not saying much. In fact, a number of reviews point out that were it not for the two big name stars, the film would likely have debuted on the Hallmark channel. This one won't hang around for long and unless it's budget is below $15M, is unlikely to see a production profit. This was the first release for CBS Films, the film making division of the CBS Corporation.
Similar to Holmes, Alvin & The Chipmunks will provide Fox with a sizeable hit. This weekend the family film crossed the $200M mark and should end up beating the tally of the first film ($217M) by some margin. It's Complicated sits on the edge of $100M but is pretty much done and dusted at this point, providing a solid (and perhaps surprising) hit for all involved. Another $40M+ from the international markets is doing the $85M film no harm either. This is Steve Martin's biggest film since 2003's Cheaper By The Dozen, though has some way to go yet to best Streep's Mamma Mia! tally of $144M. The Spy Next Door managed to just about hold on to a top ten spot, knocking out The Blind Side in the process. Jackie Chan will next appear in The Karate Kid remake, which scored the second best test screening scores of any Sony film, with the exception of Hitch.