*All historical figures cited are adjusted to today’s dollars.
First off, I should apologize for neglecting to write a Friday Forecast column this week. Fridays are my day off from work so while I have plenty of time to cook up an article, it’s also the one day where the box office is farthest from my mind, so I beg your pardon. I’m pretty sure the world went on spinning without it and rest assured, I would have predicted all these numbers to the cent.
So, our number one film this week is “Avatar.” That’s five weeks in a row and it’s the first film to accomplish that feat since “The Sixth Sense” a decade ago. Yes, the entire naughties nearly went by without a single film setting up residence at the top for more than four weeks. The fact that “Avatar” has done it and dropped only 18% in the process is flat out jaw-dropping.
The film grossed $41.3 million for the weekend, which is only 47% off from the film’s debut weekend almost a month ago. In other words, this would have been a perfectly respectable second weekend total, but as a fifth weekend, it trails only the $47 million of “Titanic.” So, Cameron’s latest has finally dipped below the weekly performance of his last, although “Titanic” only had $371 million at this point, while “Avatar” has $491.8 million.
Only “The Dark Knight,” “Shrek 2” and “Spider-Man” still stand ahead of it from the new millennium and they should all fall by the end of next week. Then the film only has to pass the $623.5 million of “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” to officially be the most attended film since “Titanic.” Whew!
Second place goes to “The Book of Eli,” which actually topped the chart on Friday. A $31.6 million weekend haul is exactly on par with “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” from one year ago, but Denzel won’t have the staying power that Kevin James had. This should finish in the $90 million range, which is where almost all of Denzel’s films end up. I didn’t see it yet because if it’s any good they’ll make a “The Film of Eli” and I’ll just see that.
Hey, remember “The Lovely Bones?” Arthouse audiences turned up their nose but regular joes seem to think it’s alright. The film earned $17.1 million for the weekend and took third place, which is pretty good for an expanding Oscar contender. It’s not quite the $19.9 million of “The Bucket List” or the $30.2 million of “Gran Torino,” but there aren’t any hilarious old people in it so you have to take what you can get.
Jackie Chan’s “The Spy Next Door” landed with a thud in sixth place and $9.7 million. This is a weekend where “Kangaroo Jack” can make $20 million and “Hotel for Dogs” can earn $17.5 million, so to fail in hitting double digits is pretty sad. Good news for “The Tooth Fairy” though as it now stands to monopolize the kiddie market next week. God help us all.
Only “Leap Year” kept any credibility from last week’s batch of films, dropping 36% to $5.9 million. It’ll still be forgotten by Valentine’s Day but “Youth in Revolt” and “Daybreakers” have already made ignominious exits from the top 10 so it’s a small victory for Amy Adams.
I saw “Youth in Revolt” on Sunday and was pleased to get my 2010 cinema experience off on a pleasing note. It’s not a perfect film, but Cera and Arteta hit enough of the right notes to make it head and shoulders above most teen romantic comedies.