After seven weeks and over $630 million dollars, the Avatar-domination of the domestic box office has been brought to a close. And what title finally proved powerful enough to take down the most profitable film of all time? A romantic confection called Dear John.
|3||From Paris w/Love||$8,120,000||$8.1|
|4||Edge of Darkness||$7,005,000||$29|
|6||When in Rome||$5,504,000||$20.8|
|7||Book of Eli||$4,835,000||$82.1|
Dear John proved to be a far more formidable opponent than anyone expected, bringing in an estimated $32.4 million dollars from its 2,969 locations. That’s a per-screen average of $10,900 – good enough to help Dear John become the all-time domestic box office champ for a Super Bowl weekend release.
Avatar probably isn’t too broken up by this weekend’s results, however. On Tuesday the film crossed the final achievement off of its box office to-do list, replacing Titanic as the all-time leader at the domestic box office with an astounding $601 million earned in just 47 days. It took Titanic more than 250 days to reach its domestic high of $600.8 million back in 1998 – though when inflation, higher 3D ticket prices and estimated theatre attendance is factored in, Titanic still looks pretty unsinkable.
I’d love to be able to say that I saw this Dear John upset coming, but that would be a big lie. All signs pointed to a decent $20 million weekend for the romantic drama, Super Bowl chick-counter-programming notwithstanding.
The film, starring Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried, is based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks. Sparks is a big star among the Oprah Book Club set, but has not yet been able to turn that success to his advantage at the box office. Both his The Notebook and Nights in Rodanthe had opening weekends in the $15 million range. Even adding another $5 million on for Tatum’s abs and Seyfried’s “alien hotness,” that only brings Dear John up to a $20 million debut weekend – leaving plenty of room for Avatar to pull off an eighth week on top.
On Super Bowl weekend last year, director Pierre Morel pulled off his own box office surprise when his male-skewing, R-rated Taken notched a first place opening with $24.7 million. Sadly, Morel was not destined to relive that accomplishment in 2010. His latest action pic, From Paris with Love, came in third with a very disappointing $8.1 million from 2,722 play dates. Lionsgate will no doubt place some blame for the film’s failure on the East Coast blizzard, but with a Rotten Tomato score of just 34% and the downward trajectory of John Travolta’s career in play, the weather can’t be the only scapegoat.
One final point of interest in this week’s top ten: after eight weeks in very limited release, Fox Searchlight’s Crazy Heart became the first independent feature to experience an Oscar nomination bump this week. The film, featuring Best Actor contender Jeff Bridges, expanded into 819 theatres nationwide, earning an estimated $3.6 million in eighth place or a 58% increase over last week.
Even if Avatar had held on for an eighth week, its reign at the top of the box office was destined to come to a close – sooner rather than later. Next week has three strong new titles for audiences to choose from: Valentine’s Day for the ladies, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief for the teen set and the rebirth of Universal’s classic monster The Wolfman for… people who like wolf men. All three have the potential to do well, which means that next Friday may find Avatar tasting third place for the first time in its storied career.