"Avatar" Leads U.S. Box Office for Fifth Weekend
January 17, 2010
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Avatar" logged a fifth consecutive weekend as the top choice at the North American box office on Sunday, and moved up to the No. 3 spot on the all-time chart, distributor 20th Century Fox said.
Writer/director James Cameron's sci-fi spectacular earned $41.3 million during the three-day period beginning Friday, taking its total to $491.8 million.
The only movies ahead of it on the all-time chart are Cameron's "Titanic" ($601 million) and "The Dark Knight" ($533 million). The No. 3 slot was previously held by "Star Wars" ($461 million).
"Titanic" was the last movie to lead the box office for five consecutive weekends, in 1998, although "Avatar" might struggle to reach its record of 15 unbroken weekends.
Fox, a unit of News Corp, does expect "Avatar" to surpass "Dark Knight" by next weekend, and now believes it could pass "Titanic" as well -- with a lot of help from ticket-price inflation and premium pricing for 3-D screenings.
Adjusted for inflation, "Avatar" ranks at a humble No. 40, according to tracking firm Box Office Mojo.
"Avatar" denied Denzel Washington's new picture "The Book of Eli" a shot at the top slot. Directing twins Allen and Albert Hughes' Christian-themed apocalyptic picture opened at No. 2 with $31.6 million, Warner Bros. Pictures said. The studio is a unit of Time Warner Inc.
(Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Eric Beech)