2. “The Book of Eli” ($31.6 million)
3. “The Lovely Bones” ($17 million)
4. “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” ($11.5 million)
5. “Sherlock Holmes” ($9.8 million)
Once again, moviegoers pledged their loyalty and price of admission to the natives of Pandora as director James Cameron’s “Avatar” continued its dominance over the box office. For the fifth straight weekend, “Avatar” has emerged at the top of the charts, taking in an estimated $41.3 million by Sunday evening.
Official projections for the full Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend aren’t currently available, though Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood Daily has estimated a final total of $50 million by Monday’s conclusion. Such a result would push “Avatar” past the $500 million threshold, yet another milestone in the film’s continually successful path. Additionally, “Avatar” earned another $125 million from international territories, resulting in a worldwide cumulative total of $1.6 billion, just $200 million shy of “Titanic’s” current record.
Despite its victory, “Avatar” fought off its most formidable film foe yet in the form of “The Book of Eli,” the Denzel Washington-starring post-apocalyptic thriller that debuted this weekend. “Eli” opened in first place on Friday night but couldn’t hold onto the title, ultimately ringing in its inaugural weekend with $31.6 million, almost a full $10 million behind “Avatar.”
Third place went to Peter Jackson’s “The Lovely Bones,” the adaptation of Alice Sebold’s critically acclaimed novel. In its sixth weekend in theaters, “The Lovely Bones” finally expanded to a wide release of just over 2,500 theaters, resulting in a $17.5 million finish.
“Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” and “Sherlock Holmes” slipped to fourth and fifth place respectively, though “Holmes” barely edged out newcomer “The Spy Next Door” with $9.8 million versus $9.7 million.
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