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It was a fantastic weekend at the box office as the top film topped expectations and broke records, admittedly by narrow margins, but records nonetheless. Overall the box office pulled in $138 million, which was 42% higher than last weekend and an outstanding 56% higher than the same weekend last year. Year-to-date, 2009 has earned $9.96 billion, extending its record and moving closer to the $10 billion milestone. This time last year the cumulative box office was $9.15 billion, meaning 2009 has an 8.8% lead.

James Cameron returned to multiplexes with Avatar and the long wait since Titanic did not hurt the filmmaker's ability to draw in moviegoers. The film made $77.03 million, which was on the high end of expectations and was just behind I Am Legend's record. I normally think the effects of weather on the box office are exaggerated; after all, even something that affects the entire East Coast will have no impact on two-thirds of the population. However, since Avatar was less than $200,000 behind I Am Legend's opening, the storm likely did cost it the record.

Where will the movie go from here? Given its reviews, its early award nominations, and the time of year, it has an excellent shot at earning more than $300 million at the box office. In fact, if it has the same legs as the The Lord of the Rings trilogy, then it has a shot at $400 million. I'm not willing to make that prediction just yet, but I wouldn't discount the possibility either.

The Princess and the Frog fell nearly 50% during its second weekend of release down to just $12.19 million over the weekend and $44.72 million after two. I'm surprised by this result, especially given the film's reviews, its target audience, and the time of the year. Perhaps it will bounce back over Christmas, but Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel starts soon, so it doesn't have a whole lot of time to make an impact at the box office.

The Blind Side matched expectations perfectly, adding $10.02 million over the weekend for a total of $164.73 million after a month of release. This marks the second time this year that Sandra Bullock set a personal best at the box office. Even though it is likely that the film will start shedding theaters with the massive onslaught of movies opening or expanding wide this week, $200 million remains a real possibility.

After its opening weekend, the name Did You Hear About the Morgans? became easy fodder for snarky analysts. The film struggled to find an audience, opening with just $6.62 million, which is terrible for a wide release, and with even worse reviews, it is unlikely to have any real legs at the box office.

The battle for fifth place turned out to be as close as expected, but all three films missed expectations. New Moon came the closest to expectations with $4.41 million over the weekend and a total of $274.60 million after a month of release.

Coming off his biggest box office hit, Invictus is proving to be one of Clint Eastwood's weakest performers of the past decade. The film has earned good reviews and several award nominations so far, so this result is more than a little puzzling.

Disney's A Christmas Carol took a major hit, falling to just $3.44 million over the weekend for a total of $130.81 million after a month and a half of release. The film is fading off The Polar Express's pace, but Christmas is just around the corner, and that should help it have one last stab at the box office.

One last note: Up in the Air reached the top ten for the first time in its run, pulling in $3.21 million in just 175 theaters. This week it expands into nearly 200 theaters and even with the intense competition, it should have a strong weekend.

- C.S.Strowbridge Avatar Amazes - The Numbers

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Avatar Amazes

December 22nd, 2009

It was a fantastic weekend at the box office as the top film topped expectations and broke records, admittedly by narrow margins, but records nonetheless. Overall the box office pulled in $138 million, which was 42% higher than last weekend and an outstanding 56% higher than the same weekend last year. Year-to-date, 2009 has earned $9.96 billion, extending its record and moving closer to the $10 billion milestone. This time last year the cumulative box office was $9.15 billion, meaning 2009 has an 8.8% lead.

James Cameron returned to multiplexes with Avatar and the long wait since Titanic did not hurt the filmmaker's ability to draw in moviegoers. The film made $77.03 million, which was on the high end of expectations and was just behind I Am Legend's record. I normally think the effects of weather on the box office are exaggerated; after all, even something that affects the entire East Coast will have no impact on two-thirds of the population. However, since Avatar was less than $200,000 behind I Am Legend's opening, the storm likely did cost it the record.

Where will the movie go from here? Given its reviews, its early award nominations, and the time of year, it has an excellent shot at earning more than $300 million at the box office. In fact, if it has the same legs as the The Lord of the Rings trilogy, then it has a shot at $400 million. I'm not willing to make that prediction just yet, but I wouldn't discount the possibility either.

The Princess and the Frog fell nearly 50% during its second weekend of release down to just $12.19 million over the weekend and $44.72 million after two. I'm surprised by this result, especially given the film's reviews, its target audience, and the time of the year. Perhaps it will bounce back over Christmas, but Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel starts soon, so it doesn't have a whole lot of time to make an impact at the box office.

The Blind Side matched expectations perfectly, adding $10.02 million over the weekend for a total of $164.73 million after a month of release. This marks the second time this year that Sandra Bullock set a personal best at the box office. Even though it is likely that the film will start shedding theaters with the massive onslaught of movies opening or expanding wide this week, $200 million remains a real possibility.

After its opening weekend, the name Did You Hear About the Morgans? became easy fodder for snarky analysts. The film struggled to find an audience, opening with just $6.62 million, which is terrible for a wide release, and with even worse reviews, it is unlikely to have any real legs at the box office.

The battle for fifth place turned out to be as close as expected, but all three films missed expectations. New Moon came the closest to expectations with $4.41 million over the weekend and a total of $274.60 million after a month of release.

Coming off his biggest box office hit, Invictus is proving to be one of Clint Eastwood's weakest performers of the past decade. The film has earned good reviews and several award nominations so far, so this result is more than a little puzzling.

Disney's A Christmas Carol took a major hit, falling to just $3.44 million over the weekend for a total of $130.81 million after a month and a half of release. The film is fading off The Polar Express's pace, but Christmas is just around the corner, and that should help it have one last stab at the box office.

One last note: Up in the Air reached the top ten for the first time in its run, pulling in $3.21 million in just 175 theaters. This week it expands into nearly 200 theaters and even with the intense competition, it should have a strong weekend.

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Filed under: The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Did You Hear About the Morgans?, Up in the Air, The Blind Side, Invictus, Disney's A Christmas Carol, Avatar, The Princess and the Frog