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The Unstoppable Avatar

January 28th, 2010

The consensus among box office trackers has Avatar remaining in top spot, again. The real question is whether or not the new releases will pull their weight and help 2010 stop its mini-slump. The best new release from last year was Taken, which didn't start like a movie destined to reach nearly $150 million, but it is unlikely either of the new releases will come that close to its nearly $25 million opening.

Avatar's winning streak at the box office doesn't appear to be in serious threat and even on the low end it should make more than was Taken opened with last year. It appears the film is tracking for a weekend box office between $28 million and $29 million, which would leave it about $10 million shy of the $600 million market. That means by this time next week it may be able to overtake Titanic on the all-time chart. And with Oscar nominations less than a week away, it could get another bounce at the box office.

The biggest wide release of the week is Edge of Darkness, which is noteworthy for being Mel Gibson's first starring role in more than seven years. So far the film has managed 60% positive reviews, which is barely at the overall positive level, but it is Oscar-worthy compared to most January releases. That said, the buzz is closer to Daybreakers than Book of Eli and even $20 million might be out of the question. It could come close and I think Warner Bros. will be relatively happy with $19 million during its opening weekend.

The only other wide release of the week is When in Rome, a romantic comedy starring Kristen Bell. Bell starred in the amazing Veronica Mars, which has a rabidly faithful audience, but she has struggled to build a movie resume and she's never had a film that was both a critical and a box office smash hit. In fact, most have struggled in both areas. So far the film's Tomatometer score is barely in double-digits and its box office chances are not much stronger. On the low end, it could fail to reach $10 million, but on the high end, it could challenge for second place with more than $15 million. Split the difference and we get third place with $12.5 million. That's hardly a box office hit, but for this time of year it isn't bad either.

The Book of Eli appears to be heading for another weekend in the top five with between $8 million and $9 million, which would give it a running tally of close to $75 million. This would leave its chances of $100 million in serious doubt, but I'm not willing to write off the film either.

The Tooth Fairy and Legion should battle it out for fifth place, with both earning $8 million, more or less. For both films, the goal is now to become a mid-level hit; however, it seems unlikely either will get there. Low production budgets might be their only saving grace.

One last note, while we don't have Thursday's box office numbers, it is practically a guarantee that by end of business today It's Complicated will have crossed the $100 million mark at the box office. This would make it the 31st film to open in 2009 to reach that milestone, while it won't be the last as The Princess and the Frog should get there over the weekend.


Filed under: The Tooth Fairy, Edge of Darkness, It's Complicated, When in Rome, The Book of Eli, Avatar, The Princess and the Frog, Legion