"Avatar" made $48.5 million at the box office this weekend and as a result not only beat out "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" as the highest grossing movie of 2009, but also beat the record for highest 4th weekend gross held by "Titanic" which again signals that it could still easily become the highest grossing movie of all time domestically and worldwide.
While it's now fallen below the 24-day total of "The Dark Knight," that can be explained by "Avatar" now playing during the school/work week in winter, while "The Dark Knight" was still enjoying it's summer release at this point in it's run. The film's weekend grosses are compensating for this, and the gap should close if "Avatar" continues to play well in the coming weeks.
If last weekend was the weekend for modest gains, this weekend was the weekend for modest to major declines. "Sherlock Holmes" fell 54% to making $16 million. While a decline like that normally means a film's first-run may be coming to close, the second place finish and the total of a $165 million domestic gross from a $90 million dollar budget is nothing but good news for those at Warner Brothers. The studio has confirmed a that sequel is in the works, just as James Cameron has done in the past few days for "Avatar".
"Alvin and the Chimpmunks: The Squeakquel" saw an almost identical gross and decline as "Sherlock Holmes", yet has posted a greater profit margin with a $178 million dollar total from a $75 million dollar budget.
In fourth place is the first new film of 2010, "Daybreakers" which made $15 million, most of it's $20 million dollar budget.
Rounding out the top five is "It's Complicated" proving once again that films (particularly comedies) for more adult audiences, especially those starring Meryl Streep can have box office staying power. The film made $11 million to bring it's total to $76 million, almost all of it's $85 million dollar budget.
While two other new films may have shown less impressive numbers, they show promising profit margins resulting from smaller budgets. "Leap Year" grossed $9.1 million, almost half of it's $19 million dollar budget, and "Youth in Revolt" grossed $7 million, almost half of it's $18 million dollar budget.
The film with the highest per-screen average was "Avatar" which made $14,173 per screen, making this the first weekend in it's run to post the highest per-screen gross. This resulted from films which had enjoyed larger numbers on fewer screens expanding, and "Avatar" selling out IMAX and 3-D showings with higher ticket prices. Second and third place went to "Crazy Heart" which made $13,182 per screen for a domestic total of $1.2 million and "The Lovely Bones" which made "11.667" million on 3 screens (second weekend in a row with that screen count), bringing it's domestic total to $444,000."The Lovely Bones" expands next weekend, and Paramount is hoping it will gain momentum in wider release as to recoup as much of it's $100 million budget as possible.