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Box Office Update 1/15-1/17: Can Anything Stop Avatar?

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Seriously? Is it possible that Avatar is still pulling opening weekend  numbers five weekends in? Yes, I guess it is possible. Seeing what Avatar is doing, the across the board appeal, the sold-out shows five weeks deep, it is nothing short of amazing. I am sure that you are all tired of hearing about it, but it is still big news, and its Golden Globe wins (Best Picture: Drama, Best Director) all but guarantee it is going to be around for awhile longer. Just wait for the Oscars. Wouldn't that be something if it were to become the first science fiction film to win best picture! It is not nearly my favorite of the year, but it is an amazing film and I do not think I would be disappointed.

Now, there are many arguments that help put its success in perspective. IMAX and 3D tickets cost more than regular tickets. If you adjust the dollars it is only about 30th on the all time list. Fanboys keep going to see it, which inflates the numbers. You get the picture. There is some credence to that, but then factor in the increased competition in the entertainment sector from television, video games, the Internet, and the decreased window from big screen to home video. There is no denying the movie is very successful and it is not the fanboys. People from all walks of life are going to see this, in some cases more than once, and this includes those who do not go to many films at all. James Cameron knows how to make movies that everybody likes. It will be fun to see where it ultimately ends up. This is a historic ride.

Oh, yes, let's not forget that it is indeed a good movie and one that has taken the technology of film to the next level.

Coming in second place is the new Denzel Washington film from the Hughes Brothers. The Book of Eli is an apocalyptic thriller that is deceptively simple on the surface yet possesses a good deal of nuance. That nuance is helped in no small part by the work of Washington and Gary Oldman, two of the world's finest actors. The film is visually stunning and proved to be much more than I was expecting. I must recommend this as the finest of the young 2010 class of films.

Third place is a film that I do not think the studio had much faith in and while it did not open to blockbuster numbers, it was respectable. The Lovely Bones is Peter Jackson's latest directorial effort and I cannot help but label it a disappointment. It did seem like many in my audience liked it, but it felt overly long, had a disjointed plot, and it lacked any heart. The film that centers on a murder and a family falling apart should have some emotional resonance with the audience, I felt none. I think that Jackson needs to do what Sam Raimi did with Drag Me to Hell — cut the budget and get back to his roots and show us what made us love him in the first place. He is definitely a skilled filmmaker.

Fourth and fifth place are owned by a couple of 2009 holdovers in the Alvin and the Chipmunks sequel and Guy Ritchie's new take on Sherlock Holmes. These films have been doing solid business since their Christmas releases and would seem to have a couple of weeks left in them.

Jackie Chan's latest film is the family action comedy The Spy Next Door. I cannot say it looks all that good, but it looks like fine entertainment for the family, although it does not seem to have connected with audiences at large. It looks like a sequel to the Vin Diesel family film The Pacifier. I have not seen this yet. I'm not sure I will, but I do like Jackie Chan.

Nothing really special in the bottom half of the chart as it is filled with holdovers shifted down from last week, although I would like to note that Daybreakers slipped from fourth to eleventh in one week. I am at a loss to understand this. I know that horror films tend to have a limited audience, but this is a good movie and deserves a little better than it is getting.

Next week three more films enter the fray and I am only interested in one. Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser star in the real life story Extraordinary Measures, which is the story of a father trying to save his sick children through the work of a cutting edge medical researcher. Dwayne Johnson puts on tights and a tutu when he is sentenced to serve time as The Tooth Fairy. Finally, Paul Bettany cuts off his angel wings to try and protect an unborn child from an angel extermination in Legion. Can you guess which one I am interested in most?

Three movies dropped off the list this week: Daybreakers (11), Youth in Revolt (12), and The Princess and the Frog (13).

This Week Last Week Title Wknd Gross Overall Week in release
1 1 Avatar $42,800,000 $493,267,000 5
2 N The Book of Eli $32,770,000 $32,770,000 1
3 The Lovely Bones $17,020,000 $17,487,000 6
4 3 Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel $11,650,000 $192,742,000 4
5 2 Sherlock Holmes $9,880,000 $180,073,000 4
6 N The Spy Next Door $9,600,000 $9,600,000 1
7 5 It's Complicated $7,672,000 $88,224,000 4
8 6 Leap Year $5,828,000 $17,529,000 2
9 7 The Blind Side $5,555,000 $226,764,000 9
10 8 Up in the Air $5,458,000 $62,831,000 7

Box Office Predictions Recap

Not bad, not bad at all. With the exceptions of The Spy Next Door and Daybreakers I think I did pretty good. I would have thought Jackie Chan's family actioner would have scored higher; I suspect its potential audience went to see Avatar instead. As for Daybreakers? Who would have thought it would sink so fast. Of course, I may be on the short end of the stick since I like it. Still, there is no denying Avatar's amazing success.

Here is how the field matched up:



Title Wknd Gross Prediction
1 1 Avatar $42,800,000 $42 million
2 2 The Book of Eli $32,770,000 $33 million


3 The Lovely Bones $17,020,000 $18.5 million
6 4 The Spy Next Door $9,600,000 $16 million
5 5 Sherlock Holmes (2009) $9,880,000

$9 million

4 6 Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel $11,650,000 $8.5 million
11 7 Daybreakers $4,900,000 $7 million
7 8 It's Complicated $7,672,000 $6 million
8 9 Leap Year $5,828,000 $5.5 million
9 10 The Blind Side $5,555,000 $5 million

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