North American box office: James Cameron about to overtake James Cameron…

…for biggest movie ever:

1. Avatar: $54.4 million
2. The Book of Eli: $38.4 million (NEW)
3. The Lovely Bones: $19.9 million (NEW in wide release)
4. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel: $15.3 million (3rd week; drops 8%)
5. The Spy Next Door: $12.9 million (NEW)

actual numbers, not estimates, for the 4-day weekend
In its fifth week, Avatar was up eight percent over the previous weekend (down 15 percent if you look at the three-day weekend), making it the biggest Martin Luther King Jr. weekend opener ever. As Box Office Mojo notes, it’s also the first movie in a decade — since 1999’s The Sixth Sense — to spend five weeks at the top of the box office. It’s now the fastest film to $500 million in North America (it was near to $505 million after Monday’s takings were counted): 32 days, versus 45 for The Dark Knight. (Titanic is the only other film in that exclusive club.) It seems inevitable that it will surpass Titanic as the moneymakingest movie ever: it’s within less than $200 million, globally, of Titanic’s final number.

So much for “women don’t go to the movies.” After critics and adult moviegoers rejected the film in limited release, Paramount targeted The Lovely Bones at teenaged girls, and the tactic paid off: its not unimpressive first weekend in wide release saw an audience that was 72 percent female and 40 percent under 20 years of age. (The film will still have an impossible job of earning back its budget of $65 million, though.)

If you look at the three-day weekend only, Sherlock Holmes and Spy Next Door were reversed, with Holmes just edging out Spy by about $160,000; Spy was ahead by about $850,000 over the four-day weekend.

I’m sorry to see Daybreakers disappearing so quickly: it dropped to No. 11, plunging 60 percent in its second weekend. Still, it was cheap to make — $20 million — and has already earned $25 million.

Another milestone: The Blind Side passed $225 million. It is, by far, the highest-grossest football movie ever and the highest-grossing sports drama ever.

[numbers via Box Office Mojo]

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