AVATAR Takes First Worldwide (Mania.com)

By:Jarrod Sarafin
Date: Sunday, December 20, 2009


With snowstorms raging wildly on the U.S. East Coast over the last few days, it seemed a weekend destined for a show down between Pandora’s Mother Tree and Earth’s Mother Nature. Who would win? We’ll go ahead and say it was an even draw with James Cameron’s Avatar still pulling in an impressive $73.0 million in its first three days of release despite so many major cities on the east side snowed in.
The long-awaited return of director Cameron opened Friday to the tune of $27 million with $3.5 million of that being early midnight showings. Then nature intervened by blanketing quite a few major eastern markets with snowstorms, causing a less than spectacular Saturday gross of $25.7 million, with the remaining $20 mil expected from Sunday’s estimates.
Avatar did dominate the international box office race, pulling in $159.2 million in its opening five days from 14,461 screens in 106 territories.

Distributor 20th Century Fox says the much-anticipated futuristic 3D spectacle's worldwide gross total of $232.2 million ranks as the "highest-grossing nonfranchise, nonsequel opening ever." The overseas per-screen average was $11,008.

"We are off to a great start," said Paul Hanneman, co-president of Fox Theatrical International, who noted that "Avatar," while benefiting from solid reviews overseas, had to defy tough winter weather in many European markets. On the basis of favorable word-of-mouth, Hanneman predicts "Avatar" grosses will hold relatively strongly in the coming weeks.
As discussed last week, budget estimates are all over the place with Avatar. Last official word was $230 million with advertising bringing the cost to somewhere between $250 and $300 million. No official party involved with the release has confirmed those $500 million reports so we’ll keep it listed on the low end.  
While no notable records were overtaken with the weather issues, it’s still a good weekend for Cameron’s camp with the film racking up $232.2 million over it first weekend of worldwide release.
Discuss it down below, Maniacs.
Walt Disney followed in 2nd place with their 2D animated feature, The Princess and the Frog, pulling in another $12.2 million in its second expanded release weekend. The fantasy is showing in 3,452 theaters so it’s still averaging $3,518 per showing for family audiences across the nation. Domestic cume currently sits at $44.7 million against a budget listed at $105 million.
Despite being out for five weekends against some heavy genre competition, Warner Bros. Pictures continued pulling in double-digit numbers for The Blind Side. The Sandra Bullock-led feature grabbed another estimated $10.0 million this weekend to increase its overall domestic tally to $164.7 million. Very good numbers for a film which reportedly cost only $29 mil to produce.
Sony Picture’s romantic comedy Did You Hear About the Morgans debuted in 4th place with an estimated haul of $7.0 million. It seems a decent enough debut those we have to wonder whether it has any chance of overcome that $58 million price tag, a costly production for a film starring Hugh Grant.
And taking the 5th place spot is Summit Entertainment’s The Twilight Saga: New Moon. The sequel howled up another $4.3 million over the last three days. The latest numbers has its domestic cume at $274.5 million and its overall worldwide tally at $634.6 million. Great numbers indeed for the release since its budget is listed at only $50 million.
Check out the rest of the top ten in the numbers below.

$73.0 mil
$73.0 mil
The Princess and the Frog
$12.2 mil
$44.7 mil
The Blind Side
$10.0 mil
$164.7 mil
Did You Hear About the Morgans?
$7.0 mil
$7.0 mil
The Twilight Saga: New Moon
$4.3 mil
$274.5 mil
$4.1 mil
$15.8 mil
A Christmas Carol
$3.4 mil
$130.7 mil
Up in the Air
$3.1 mil
$8.1 mil
$2.6 mil
$22.0 mil
Old Dogs
$2.2 mil
$43.5 mil

Like the past few Christmas events, we’re going to see quite a bit theatrical competition for Avatar next week over the holiday. 20th Century Fox is releasing the family-focused Alvin sequel just five days after they distributed Cameron’s long-awaited release while Warner Bros. has Sherlock Holmes entering over 3,600 theaters as well.
Critically praised The Lovely Bones and Up in the Air will also be seeing their expansions.
Wednesday December 23, 2009 Release:
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (3,700)
Friday December 25, 2009 Releases:
Sherlock Holmes (3,600+)
It’s Complicated (2,800+)
The Lovely Bones
Up in the Air
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus