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Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel Opens With $18.801M, But Avatar A Strong Second With $16.445M

20th Century Fox carried the top two spots on Wednesday courtesy a solid opening day performance for the kids film Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel and another impressive weekday performance for Avatar.

‘Alvin 2’ opened in 3,656 theaters with $18.801M (it’ll expand slightly to 3,700 theaters for the weekend).  Avatar meanwhile actually managed a slight 2% increase in receipts from Tuesday’s numbers, posting a very solid $16.445M for the day (from 3,452 theaters–it’ll add four theaters and play in 3,456 theaters for the weekend). Word of mouth remains strong and the film should have no problem winning the weekend box office race.

With regards to Alvin 2, the first film opened on a Friday ($13.30M) in 2007 and went on to gross $44.31M its first weekend.  It was a surprising finish for the kids-geared film, made all the more impressive by a solid domestic total of $217.33M.  It added another $143.25M from overseas markets bringing its total worldwide take to $360.6M.  Not bad for a film that cost $60M (hence the quick turn around for the sequel).

But I’d have to say that Avatar’s Wednesday number, while not first for the day, is the more impressive performance. A nearly $16.5M sixth day gross heading into Christmas weekend bodes very well for a strong weekend performance (and continued solid legs).  We’re probably looking at around $55-65M (with the incredible word of mouth, it’s more difficult to keep the range low) for the James Cameron-directed 3D sci-fi film.  Alvin 2 should finish in second or third place with around $40-50M.

Things will get real interesting on Friday.  That’s when Warner Brothers opens Sherlock Holmes and Universal Pictures opens the R-rated Meryl Streep / Steve Martin / Alec Baldwin comedy It’s Complicated. Sherlock Holmes looks headed for a second or third place finish of around $40-50M, while It’s Complicated will probably nab somewhere around $18-25M.  It’s hard to predict that one because for one thing it’s Rated-R and secondly there are a ton of choices this weekend (George Clooney’s Up in the Air opened wide on Wednesday, the musical Nine will open wide on Friday and Sandra Bullock’s The Blind Side is still pulling in respectable numbers).

My Wednesday predictions are below:

Rank Movie Weekend Gross
Theaters Theater Change
1 Avatar $57.8M 3,456 +4
2 Sherlock Holmes $45.0M 3,626 n/a
3 Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel $43.8M 3,700 n/a
4 It’s Complicated $20.1M 2,887 n/a
5 Up in the Air $11.8M 1,895 +1,720
6 The Princess and the Frog $10.1M 3,475 n/c
7 The Blind Side $9.2M 2,766 -641
8 Nine $8.0M 1,412 +1,408
9 Did You Hear About the Morgans? $4.6M 2,718 n/c
10 The Twilight Saga: New Moon $3.3M 1,593 -1,442

Source: Box Office Mojo