'Avatar' Rules Box Office For Third Straight Weekend

James Cameron's sci-fi blockbuster earns over $1 billion worldwide to become the fourth-highest-grossing movie of all time.

Box-Office Top Five

#1 [movie id="301495"]"Avatar"[/movie] ($68.3 million)

#2 [movie id="341168"]"Sherlock Holmes"[/movie] ($38.4 million)

#3 "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel" ($36.6 million)

#4 "It's Complicated" ($18.7 million)

#5 [movie id="420164"]"The Blind Side"[/movie] ($12.7 million)

The third time isn't just the charm for "Avatar" -- it marks yet another notch in the science-fiction epic's ever-increasing success story.

James Cameron's latest film once again topped the box office for its third consecutive weekend with a $68.3 million intake, a mere 9.7 percent drop from last weekend's $75.6 million. "Avatar" now holds the record for highest-grossing second and third weekends for a non-sequel, though that isn't the film's only cause for celebration. To date, "Avatar's" domestic tally is priced at $352.1 million, which combines with foreign numbers for a worldwide total of $1.022 billion.

In just three weeks, "Avatar" has beat out "The Dark Knight" to become the fourth-highest-grossing film in the worldwide box office, falling short of "Titanic" ($1.843 billion, and also produced, directed and written by Cameron), "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" ($1.119 billion) and "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" ($1.066 billion). At its current pace, "Avatar" could easily claim the #2 spot on that list, resulting in James Cameron's status as the director behind the two highest-grossing films of all time.

Even if such success doesn't pan out, Cameron and his supporters have plenty of reason to be satisfied by the current success of "Avatar." With reports of a production budget of somewhere between $200 million and a rumored $500 million, there is now no question that "Avatar" is well past its fabled budget and firmly in the profit zone.

The weekend's complete dearth of new major releases is an important consideration not only in the success of "Avatar," but also for its box-office contenders. The top five films of the weekend reflected last week's box-office rankings, as "Sherlock Holmes" and "Alvin and the Chipmunks" once again competed closely for second place, while "It's Complicated" skirted in at #4.

Sandra Bullock's "The Blind Side" managed an impressive feat of its own by crossing the $200 million mark on Friday. For a film that was produced on a meager $30 million budget with an equally mild prerelease buildup, the football drama's present success is nothing short of a touchdown for Sony, with a continually admirable performance.

Upcoming Releases

"Avatar" and "Sherlock Holmes" will make way for a new action competitor next weekend in the form of "Daybreakers," the vampire-centric thriller starring Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe. Amy Adams' romantic comedy "Leap Year" and Michael Cera's independent comedy "Youth in Revolt" also open in wide release.

Check out everything we've got on "Avatar," "Sherlock Holmes" and "The Blind Side."

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