Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Avatar is the number one movie in America! For the sixth weekend in a row, James Cameron’s wild blue epic topped the charts and shattered records in the process—its $36 million haul is the largest sixth weekend gross for any film in history, beating the previously held mark by Titanic. (Something tells us that won’t be the only time we mention Avatar beating Titanic in the coming weeks.) For the new releases, things weren’t as historic: Legion surprised with a decent showing in second place; The Tooth Fairy disappointed in fourth; and Extraordinary Measures really disappointed, landing in seventh place with a pedestrian $7 million. Not that anyone thought it was going to do well, right? Err, never mind. As we do each Monday, here’s a breakdown of the top five at the box office.
1. Avatar: $36 million ($552.7 million total)
And then there was one. On Saturday, Avatar passed The Dark Knight to become the second highest domestic grosser ever, leaving only Titanic as the last film standing between Pandora and U.S. history. At just over $48 million away from Titanic‘s record domestic number of $600.8 million, and with ridiculously small attrition rates—Avatar dipped just 16 percent this weekend—expect the big ship to go down sometime around the weekend of February 5th. And as if that weren’t enough, later today James Cameron will officially become King of the World… all over again. Avatar‘s worldwide total now stands at $1.84 billion, meaning its just $2 million shy of tying Titanic‘s worldwide record. Ka-ching.
2. Legion: $18.2 million ($18.2 million total)
Considering Legion only cost a reported $25 million to make and featured Paul Bettany as an action hero-cum-angel (!), finishing as runner-up to Avatar with $18.2 million is nothing to sneeze at—bear in mind, its prohibitive R-rating didn’t stop it from beating the kid-friendly, star-heavy The Tooth Fairy. The only quibble we can see? Screen Gems, the low-budget horror label from Sony, got Underworld: Rise of Lycans to $20.8 million on this weekend last year. If only Legion featured vampires and werewolves…
3. The Book of Eli: $17 million ($62 million total)
When you’re dealing with the month of January, a 48 percent drop from weekend to weekend constitutes legs. With that in mind, hello to The Book of Eli! There is a lot to like here for Warner Brothers, not the least of which being that Eli had to tangle with the aforementioned Legion in the race to get post-apocalyptic dollars from moviegoers and still held its own. More good news: with $62 million already, Eli is on course to become the fourth highest grossing movie of Denzel Washington’s career, behind only American Gangster, Remember the Titans and The Pelican Brief. We’re guessing neither the Academy Award-winning star (nor his character in The Book of Eli, wink!) saw this kind of result coming.
4. The Tooth Fairy: $14.5 million ($14.5 million total)
Dwayne Johnson, thy name is stagnant. Despite possessing loads of charisma and tons of positive press, the man formerly known as The Rock can’t seem to break out at the box office. The opening for The Tooth Fairy is a disappointment no matter how you color it: not only is it down from his previous forays into family entertainment—Race to Witch Mountain opened with $24 million last spring; The Game Plan started with $22 million in 2008—but it also falls under the average opening for his more masculine efforts. If the star can figure out how to combine both audiences, he could have something substantial. Until then, though, he’s a better-liked Vin Diesel.
5. The Lovely Bones: $8.8 million ($31.6 million total)
Peter Jackson’s much derided adaptation of Alice Sebold’s best-selling novel barely held off Sherlock Holmes ($7.1 million/$191.5 million total) to finish in fifth place after dropping a reasonable 48 percent from its wide release last weekend. Call this a case of managing expectations: when The Lovely Bones was first announced, it seemed like a slam-dunk financial success and Oscar-contender. However after terrible reviews and atrocious returns in limited release, a final domestic tally of around $45 million has to be viewed by Paramount as a victory. They got as much out of this lemon as they possibly could.