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Christmas Box Office Record Falls: Sherlock Holmes First With $24.86M, Followed By Avatar With $23.5M; Alvin 2 In Third With $14.5M

Sherlock Holmes exceeded expectations on Christmas Day with an impressive first place showing of an estimated $24.86 million.  That easily bests the previous Christmas Day record held by Meet the Fockers ($19.54M on Saturday, December 25, 2004)  as well as the Christmas Day Opening day record held by Marley & Me ($14.38M on Thursday, December 25, 2008).

Not to be outdone, Avatar had an absolutely tremendous second Friday with an estimated $23.5M (now second all-time on Christmas Day).  Remarkably, that’s only 12% below its opening day ($26.752 million) and amazingly +1% over its opening day when not including the midnight numbers (which was $3.537 million).

When all is said and done, both films are expected to pull in at least $70 million for the weekend (which would be above expectations for both films).  Avatar is expected to have stronger numbers for the rest of the weekend and could potentially beat the 2nd weekend record currently held by The Dark Knight ($75,166,466).  So we’re looking at a $70-80 million second weekend for Avatar and a $70-75 million or so opening weekend for Sherlock Holmes.

Avatar’s continued strong standing at the box office is absolutely extraordinary.  After its opening weekend and first few weekday numbers, I thought $1 billion worldwide was pretty much a lock.  I still believe that, and in fact, actually believe it has a chance to beat both The Dark Knight ($533,345,358) and Titanic ($600,788,188) in domestic performance (beating Titanic’s worldwide number will be much, much more difficult: $1,842,879,955).

Following in third place for the day was Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel with an estimated $14.5 million ($41.351 million cume).  The sequel is performing in line with expectations and should top at for the weekend at around $43-46 million. Rounding out the top five was the new R-rated comedy It’s Complicated with an estimated $7.073 million and finishing in fifth place was the wide-opening release Up In The Air with an estimated $3.55 million ($16.235 million cume).

It’s Complicated is performing on par with expectations, perhaps slightly higher, and should finish its first weekend with somewhere between $20-25 million. Up In The Air is also performing within expectations and should pull in around $10-12 million for the weekend.

Estimates for Friday follow below.

Rank Movie Friday Gross
Percent Change from Thursday Theaters
1 Sherlock Holmes $24.86M n/a 3,626
2 Avatar $23.5M +108% 3,456
3 Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel $14.5M +80% 3,700
4 It’s Complicated $7.073M n/a 2,887
5 Up In The Air $3.55M +112% 1,895
6 The Blind Side $3.37M +120% 2,766
7 Nine $1.99M +5,586% 1,408
8 The Princess and the Frog $1.95M +23% 3,475
9 Did You Hear About The Morgans? $1.535M +118% 2,718
10 Invictus $1.31M +85% 2,160

Source: Box Office Mojo