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Avatar Back on Top Saturday & Sunday; Weekend Estimated at $75.0M, Easily Ahead of Sherlock Holmes ($65.38M) and Alvin 2 ($50.2M) [UPDATED: Avatar Adds $145M From Overseas]

Avatar continues its impressive run at the box office.  The film opened the weekend in a solid 2nd place on Friday with an estimated $23.55 million (Sherlock Holmes finished slightly ahead on Friday with $24.775M).  But it managed to build on that Friday performance by 21% on Saturday with a new high for the film of an estimated $28.55 million (the previous high came on opening day: $26.752M).

20th Century Fox is being conservative with their Sunday projection, estimating the film will slide 20% to $22.9 million on Sunday.  That would put the film’s second weekend number at an estimated $75.0 million, putting it just out of reach of The Dark Knight’s second weekend record ($75,166,466).  Avatar stands at $212.268 million domestically / $467.955 million worldwide.  An estimated 2.6% weekend-to-weekend slide is just absolutely phenomenal.  Expectations were for a 20-30% decline in weekend number two.

Update: Overseas numbers are starting to come in, and however spectacular Avatar’s second weekend numbers were domestically, they were even more impressive overseas.  The film added another $145 million or so this weekend from overseas markets, pushing its overseas total to an estimated $405.0 million and its total worldwide number to an estimated $617.3 million.  The film dropped just 12% from foreign markets, that’s incredible enough, but even more impressive given several markets were closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

The strong performance by Avatar overseas, coupled with the previous impressive overseas performance by Ice Age 3: The Meltdown (currently the highest grossing film overseas), Fox has broken a new record in terms of foreign sales.  Fox International is sitting at $2.263 billion, surpassing Warner Brothers’ 2007 record of $2.24 billion (with four days left in the year).

Through only two weekends in release, Avatar is already the #7 highest-grossing film of the year worldwide, and #5 when looking solely at the overseas gross.

Rank Movie Worldwide Gross Domestic Overseas
1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince $929.4M $302.0M $627.4M
2 Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs $883.7M $196.6M $687.1M
3 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen $835.0M $402.1M $432.9M
4 2012 $734.2M $161.5M $572.8M
5 Up $683.0M $293.0M $390.0M
6 The Twilight Saga: New Moon $662.4M $280.9M $381.5M
7 Avatar (estimates)
$617.3M $212.3M $405.0M
8 Angels & Demons $485.9M $133.4M $352.6M
9 The Hangover $459.4M $277.3M $182.1M
10 Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian $412.7M $177.2M $235.4M

The rest of the original article follows below.

Moving to #2, after exceeding expectations on Friday, Sherlock Holmes dipped a bit more than expected on Saturday with an estimated $21.95 million.  It’s projected to further drop 15% on Sunday to $18.655 million which would mean a $65.38 million opening weekend (#2 non-1st place opening weekend of all time behind The Day After Tomorrow’s $68,743,584).

Alvin cleared expectations with a solid estimated $50.2 million for the weekend (Fri: $14.5M Sat: $20.425M Sun: $15.275M).  Opening on Wednesday, the film’s total domestic cume stands at $77.051 million.

Propelled by the three $50M+ performances, the top 12 box office make this weekend the biggest in box office history, with the top 12 grossing $264.152 million, well ahead of the $253.587 million grossed from the top 12 on The Dark Knight’s opening weekend.

Rounding out the top five and new releases, It’s Complicated opened in third place with an estimated $22.114 million, followed by the wide-opening Up in the Air in fifth place with an estimated $11.755 million ($24.518 million cume).

Hoping to capitalize on some of the non-Avatar/Sherlock Holmes/Alvin 2 audience, The Weinstein Company opened the musical Nine way, way too early.  And the results show that.  The highly hyped musical could only manage an eighth place finish with an estimated $5.544 million.  That’s well below industry expectations of $7-9 million.

Meanwhile, opening in limited release — in just four theaters — was Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.  The Heath Ledger/Johnny Depp/Jude Law/Colin Farrell starrer grossed an estimated $130,000 for a weekend best per theater average of $32,500.  The film has performed well overseas ($12,118,416), and is expected to expand into wider release in early January 2010.

It other news, Warner Brothers has crossed the $2 billion domestic mark.  They’re the first studio to ever achieve that mark.

Weekend estimates follow below. [UPDATE: ACTUAL NUMBERS CAN BE FOUND IN THIS POST]

Rank Movie Weekend Gross
(Estimates)
Change from Last Weekend Theaters
1 Avatar $75.0M -2.6% 3,456
2 Sherlock Holmes $65.38M - 3,626
3 Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel $50.2M - 3,700
4 It’s Complicated $22.114M - 2,887
5 Up in the Air $11.755M +266.2% 1,895
6 The Blind Side $11.73M +17.1% 3,475
7 The Princess and the Frog $8.683M -28.7% 2,766
8 Nine $5.544M +2,055.3% 1,412
9 Did You Hear About The Morgans? $5.0M -24.4% 2,718
10 Invictus $4.39M +4.4% 2,160

Sources: Box Office Mojo & THR

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