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The Streak Ends in More Ways Than One

February 9th, 2010

In a shocking development, Avatar didn't win at the box office race over the weekend. Instead, the romantic drama Dear John, based on the Nicholas Sparks novel, took top spot. Unfortunately, while Dear John did much better than expected, the overall box office was still weak. Total box office was $114 million, which was 9% lower than last weekend and 26% lower than the same weekend last year. Year-to-date, 2010 has brought it $1.21 billion, which is 1.2% more than last year; however, for the first time admissions are down, by 0.8%. This is a troubling sign.

Dear John was the obvious counter-programming choice to the Super Bowl, but it beat all expectations to earn first place with $30.47 million. (This was lower than Sunday's expectations, which means Hannah Montana: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour keeps the record for Best Super Bowl Weekend opening.) Even with weak reviews, it should have much better legs and with Valentine's day less than a week away, it could stick around long enough to hit $100 million. However, its weakness as the weekend progressed (it fell to second place on Sunday) is a bad sign going forward.

Avatar fell from top spot with $22.85 million over the weekend for a total of $629.34 million, ending a seven-week streak at the top of the chart. Not only did it slip out of top spot, it failed to match Titanic during that film's eighth weekend of release. This despite leading the way in Oscar nominations last week. That said, it only fell 27% over the weekend, $700 million domestically is still a realistic goal, it is already the highest-grossing film of all time, and will probably end up the most profitable film of all time in absolute dollar terms. Not finishing first during its eighth weekend of release is hardly a disaster.

There was a large, large distance between second and third places with From Paris With Love missing the very low end of expectations with just $8.16 million during its opening weekend. This is half as much as Old Dogs, John Travolta's previous film, which was considered a box office disappointment to begin with. Add in weak reviews and the somewhat direct competition next week, and it is likely that Paris will disappear from theaters before the end of the month.

Most were expecting that Edge of Darkness would avoid a 50% drop-off over the weekend, but in the end it fell just over 60% to $6.86 million for a total of just $28.95 million after two. This will likely be the worst box office performance for a Mel Gibson vehicle since The Man Without a Face.

The Tooth Fairy remained in the top five for another weekend with $6.63 million for a total of $24.46 million after three. Its running tally is only half of its production budget, so it will need strong sales on the home market to break even, but at least it is not a total bomb, which it could have been given its opening.

The only film in the sophomore class was When in Rome, which just missed the top five with $5.55 million over the weekend. This was down 55% from its opening weekend, and lifted its total to $20.94 million after two weeks of release. Again, it might break even with better than expected performance internationally and on the home market, but it is likely that if it does break even, it will take a long, long time to get there.


Filed under: From Paris With Love, The Tooth Fairy, Edge of Darkness, When in Rome, Avatar, Dear John