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Weekend Box Office (12/25-12/27): Avatar ($75.617M) Breaks 2nd Weekend Record, Sherlock Holmes 2nd ($62.304M), Alvin 2 3rd ($48.875M)

Avatar had another remarkable weekend for 20th Century Fox.  The 3D sci-fi epic from director James Cameron pulled in an extraordinary $75,617,183.  That’s a new record for a second weekend and down just 1.8% from the weekend prior ($77.025 million). Avatar grossed $23,095,046 on Friday, grew 10.8% on Saturday to $28,274,406 (a new best for the film) and had a better than expected Sunday hold — -14.2% — to $24,247,681.  Domestic cume stands at $212,711,184.

It did impressively overseas as well, adding another $152 million (down just 7.6%) and pushing its overseas total to $410,864,537 ($623,575,721 worldwide).

The second place finisher for the weekend was Sherlock Holmes, which beat expectations with a solid $62.304 million from 3,626 theaters, while  Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel rounded out the top three with a very respectable $48.875 from 3,700 theaters.

The performance of Sherlock Holmes (breakdowns of Fri: $24.609M, Sat: $21.837M, Sun: $15.858M) is a personal best for director Guy Ritchie.  In fact, the opening weekend is more than the total domestic box office of his previous five films combined ($40,466,094).

Meanwhile, ‘Alvin 2’ (Fri: $13,890,011, Sat: $19,842,031, Sun: $15,143,373) beat its 2007 predecessor by 10.3% ($44,307,417), despite opening on a Wednesday.  Total domestic cume for ‘Alvin 2’ stands at $75,589,048.

Moving back to Avatar for a moment, the film expanded by four theaters this weekend to 3,456 for a PTA (per theater average) of $21,880. The previous second weekend record was held by The Dark Knight which fell 52.5% in its second weekend to $75,166,466 from 4,366 theaters ($17,216 PTA).  Once again, pretty remarkable performance by Avatar, managing to fall by just 2% from its incredible opening and beat TDK’s performance by playing in 910 less theaters (that’s how important the additional revenue from 3D screens is).

Rounding out the top five, the Meryl Streep / Alec Baldwin / Steve Martin R-rated comedy It’s Complicated from Universal Pictures proved to be a strong counter to the top three.  The film grossed $22,100,820 from 2,887 theaters.  Following up in fifth place was The Blind Side, which continues to show impressive legs.  The Sandra Bullock-starrer grew 14.9% this weekend to $11.519 million from 2,766 theaters as it closes in on $200 million domestically (it’s current domestic cume is $184.176 million).  That’s well above expectations, given the film’s $29 million budget.

Closing out the top 10, the wide-opening Up in the Air took sixth place.  The Ivan Reitman-directed / George Clooney-starring Golden Globe (and likely Oscar) contending drama grossed $11.270 million from 1,895 theaters (+251.1% from last weekend’s limited — 175 theaters — showing).  The film’s domestic cume stands at $24.033 million.

That was followed by Disney’s 2D feature  The Princess and the Frog which underperformed, dropping 26.1% this week to $9.005 million from 3,475 theaters ($63.679 million cume).

The biggest disappointment of the week, however, was Rob Marshall’s musical Nine.  The high-profile musical expanded to 1,412 theaters (+1,408) but grossed just $5.453 million ($5.831 million cume) in eighth place.  TWC opened the expensive film — $80 million reported budget — way too wide, way too fast.  There are rumors they plan to pull back in certain markets and focus solely on the East and West coasts for the time being.

Rounding out the rest of the top 10, Did You Hear About The Morgans? dropped 24.4% in its second weekend, but grossed only $5,000,143 from 2,718 theaters ($15.600 million cume), while Clint Eastwood’s Invictus took 10th place with $4.068 million — -3.2% — from 2,160 theaters (an estimated $23.043 million cume).

Meanwhile, opening in limited release, Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus grossed a respectable $124,743 for a weekend best PTA of $31,186. The film has performed well overseas ($12,118,416), and is expected to expand into wider release in early January 2010.  And lastly, the Bollywood production 3 Idiots was 12th place with $1,645,502 from 119 theaters for a solid PTA of $13,828.

Overall business for the weekend came in at about $273 million, which was up 36% over the same time frame last year and a new weekend high (beating the $260.5 million set on July 18-20, 2008 when The Dark Knight and Mamma Mia! debuted).

And finally, as reported earlier, Warner Brothers has crossed the $2 billion domestic mark for 2009, while Fox International has hit a new overseas record of $2.263 (surpassing Warner Brothers’ 2007 $2.24 billion record).

Note: Article has been updated with all final actual data.

The weekend chart follows below.

Rank Movie Weekend Gross Change from Last Weekend Theaters
1 Avatar $75,617,183 -1.8% 3,456
2 Sherlock Holmes (estimate) $62,390,000 3,626
3 Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel $48,875,415 3,700
4 It’s Complicated $22,100,820 2,887
5 The Blind Side (estimate) $11,470,000 +14.5% 2,766
6 Up in the Air (estimate) $11,275,000 +251.2% 1,895
7 The Princess and the Frog $9,004,610 -26.1% 3,475
8 Nine $5,452,513 +2,019.7% 1,412
9 Did You Hear About The Morgans? $5,000,143 -24.4% 2,718
10 Invictus (estimate) $4,045,000 -3.8% 2,160

Source: Box Office Mojo