SUNDAY CENTS: Happy Blue Year

Posted by · 10:49 am · January 3rd, 2010

Avatar*All historical figures cited are adjusted to today’s dollars.

Okay. What kind of fairy dust is James Cameron sprinkling in his films? Subliminal messages perhaps? There’s no other explanation. “Avatar” is the number one movie again this weekend, raking in $68.3 million, off 10% from last week. It becomes the first film to spend three straight weeks at the top since “Tropic Thunder” and that weekend tally is the all time record for a third weekend by a mile. “Spider-Man” previously held the title with $55.7 million.

“Avatar” now has a running total of $352.1 million and will almost certainly pass $500 million before it exits theaters. Whether or not it can reach the $533.3 million of “The Dark Knight” is not certain, but with January’s releases looking particularly dismal, who knows? It is certain that Cameron’s film will become the second-highest grossing film of all time worldwide behind “Titanic,” and that is just ridiculous.

The movie is already #94 all time domestically, and #16 of the decade. It’s the highest grossing non-sequel since “The Passion of the Christ” and should eventually be the highest grossing original property since “Titanic.” Box office figures of that nature are pure flukes and for a director to do it twice with completely different properties is jaw-dropping. James Cameron is, without a doubt, the king of the world.

“Sherlock Holmes” takes second with a 38% dip to $38.4 million. That’s a little harsh for this kind of weekend and indicates that word of mouth is rather ordinary. Still, a $220 million finish is more than enough for Warner Bros. to fast track this franchise. How to top the villain of the first one, though? Short of wanting to hijack and harvest the moon, the only way to go is backwards in intensity.

“Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” fell 25% to $36.6 million and made a decent run at the number two spot. $157.3 million in the bank already makes this possibly the most lucrative live action family franchise of its kind since “Home Alone.” I know my whole family saw it and there isn’t a child in the group. Just a bunch of adults laughing at computer generated chipmunks eating their own poop.

Elsewhere, “The Blind Side” topped $200 million, which I read was the first time a film with only a female above the title and no action/adventure/fantasy elements has done so. That’s a long-winded way of saying that Sandra Bullock has shown unprecedented box office muscle for a woman in a bore-athon.

Rob Marshall’s “Nine” fell 28% from it’s already tepid debut and is practically dead and buried from a box office standpoint. The large budget is unrecoverable from domestic box office now and The Weinstein Company is in real trouble. I’m not talking about Oscars either. This company may be in for a very rough 2010 with only “Youth in Revolt” and “Piranha 3D” on the schedule.

I didn’t see anything this week but I still want to try and see “Police, Adjective” and “The White Ribbon” before I finalize my top 10 of 2009 in about a week. Incidentally, I did see “Piranha II: The Spawning” on DVD last night and that shit is awful. How Cameron ever got work again is a mystery.

The Friday Forecast will return to normal this week, just in time for all the movies nobody cares about to open.  Here are the weekend’s top domestic grossers, courtesy of Exhibitor Relations:

Weekend of Friday, January 1, 2010

→ 27 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Box Office · Sunday Cents

27 responses so far

  • 1 1-03-2010 at 10:53 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Avatar also hit a billion worldwide, right?

  • 2 1-03-2010 at 11:05 am

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Yes. 1.07 billion in 17 days.

  • 3 1-03-2010 at 11:10 am

    c.c. said...

    To do it with back-to-back movies is mind-blowing!

  • 4 1-03-2010 at 11:25 am

    Loyal said...

    Only two BP nominees have hit 1 billion and both won Best Picture in the most decisive way.

    History is favoring Avatar at this moment.

  • 5 1-03-2010 at 11:26 am

    Kevin said...

    Maybe it’s because Avatar is a great film. :)

  • 6 1-03-2010 at 11:27 am

    Michael said...

    Friday Forecast and Sunday Cents are two of my favorite articles of the week on InContention. I don’t always agree with your take on films but I am always always entertained by your writing Chad. I am definitely looking forward to your top ten of the year, as I can already tell we will share very few similarites and it will be interesting to see which films made the cut for you.

  • 7 1-03-2010 at 1:00 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    And it will also follow Titanic by being a massive sensation that we will all look back on years from now and say, “Wait, why did we go ga-ga for this?”

  • 8 1-03-2010 at 1:11 pm

    Paul Outlaw said...

    @ Robert Hamer

    Not all of us, brother. Not last time and not this time.

  • 9 1-03-2010 at 1:29 pm

    c.c. said...

    Still love and always will love Titanic.

    And Avatar!

  • 10 1-03-2010 at 1:30 pm

    j said...

    I still think the relative lack of awards buzz over both the screenplay & acting will prevent a win.

    And I think the bil won’t necessarily help that much. Adjusted, just domestically, ET/Star Wars got a billion, and they’re alien-centered as is Avatar.

  • 11 1-03-2010 at 2:14 pm

    Danny King said...

    Likewise, I am also holding out on my top ten of 2009 until I can catch “The White Ribbon.” I’ve only heard great things.

  • 12 1-03-2010 at 2:19 pm

    Silencio said...

    @Robert, agreed. Except I liked Titanic, for what it was.

  • 13 1-03-2010 at 2:51 pm

    Ryan said...

    Your description of Alvin and the Chipmunks sounds awful, haha. I assume they don’t actually do that.

    Nice to see Princess and the Frog doing relatively well.

  • 14 1-03-2010 at 3:00 pm

    red_wine said...

    This shit is totally going crazy. 1 billion in 17 days like wtf?? Ah but I guess people like what they like. The “greatest box office of all time” charts are always populated by films I don’t care about. But certainly extremely admirable. My salute to the fox publicity machine.

  • 15 1-03-2010 at 3:26 pm

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    Here we go again:

    Like Avatar, Titanic is absolute movie-magic at its best. Anyone that feels the movie didn’t deserve all the accolades should simply see it again.

  • 16 1-03-2010 at 3:29 pm

    Patryk said...

    I guess “Avator” could get nominations in 12 categories…everywhere except screenplay and the four acting slots. Has any film won Best Picture without a single acting nod or a screenplay nod? Probably not. Go “Hurt Locker” or “Inglourious Basterds.”

  • 17 1-03-2010 at 3:51 pm

    Kevin said...

    @ Patryk

    Slumdog Millionaire won Best Picture last year without a single acting nomination.

    It’s feeling more and more like a No Country for Old Men year than a Slumdog Millionaire year to me. I still have The Hurt Locker down as my predicted winner for Best Picture, but it’s really exciting to see it come down to such a close race between some really great films.

  • 18 1-03-2010 at 4:12 pm

    Leocdc said...

    Robert Hamer, I saw just the beginning of Titanic the other day and I couldn’t believe how great it looks even it has more than 12 years since its release, and its so much more than just the looking.. it’s the score, it’s the performances, and it’s the splenderous and wonderfull way it was made… so TITANIC was, is and will be for always one of the greatest epics of all time (and not forget also one of the most beautiful love stories ever told)

    Btw The Hurt Locker doesn’t deserve all praise is getting (for me)
    GO DISTRICT 9… It’s posible to get that slot of BP!!

  • 19 1-03-2010 at 6:34 pm

    aaron said...

    Avatar is boston’s “more than a feeling” and cinema is in dire need of a sex pistols.

  • 20 1-03-2010 at 6:47 pm

    Kevin said...

    What are you talking about aaron?

  • 21 1-03-2010 at 6:55 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Patryk: Only “Wings” in 1928 and “Grand Hotel” in 1932 won Best Picture without acting or writing nods. (“The Greatest Show on Earth” received a writing nod for story rather than screenplay.)

    That said, like Kris, I’m not eliminating the possibility of “Avatar” getting in for screenplay — much as the idea dismays me.

  • 22 1-03-2010 at 6:57 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Aaron’s analogy is pretty clear … and pretty good.

  • 23 1-03-2010 at 7:32 pm

    David said...

    Re: TWC having nothing on its slate, it may well end up picking movies up at festivals this year, no?

  • 24 1-03-2010 at 7:34 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    @ Jonathan Spuij: Not sure if I can stomach Rose throwing that necklace into the ocean, but why not? I’ll give it another shot. As for Avatar, I’ve already seen it again many times; Dances with Wolves, Ferngully, Pocahontas, The Last Samurai, District 9, except Avatar looked nicer.

    @ Leocdc: Totally rooting for District 9 to sneak in, but I would be even happier for a nomination for Sharlto Copley. What an astonishing breakthrough performance. Why hasn’t he been getting any buzz? Oh, right, sci-fi performances don’t count. Just ask Sam Rockwell.

    @ aaron: I would have suggested Inglourious Basterds as a Sex Pistols to Avatar’s “More Than a Feeling,” but I was one of the few who didn’t like it. Oh, woe is me.

  • 25 1-03-2010 at 8:47 pm

    m1 said...

    I didn’t love Avatar, but I did enjoy it.

  • 26 1-03-2010 at 9:45 pm

    Patryk said...

    In 1997 Cameron was nominated by the Writers Guild (a much larger group) and rightfully snubbed by the smaller Academy Writers branch for “Titanic,” which actually works well enough with the sound off, from start to finish.

  • 27 1-03-2010 at 11:03 pm

    Adam K. said...

    Patryk, Avatar will probably see a repeat of this pattern… especially since I don’t think Up, as an animated film, is eligible for the WGA.

    Avatar sure is looking more and more like a winner… but the writing/acting thing is a bit of a roadblock. If the buzz (and $$$) just continues to build, I actually wouldn’t discount the possibility of a surprise acting nod from Sigourney (most likely, given her pedigree and the volatile category) or maybe even Zoe Saldana (less likely, for obvious reasons). And the screenplay could sneak in, too. But five other films seem pretty locked and loaded for noms there.

    SO excited to see just how well this film manages to do…