With a budget estimated at anywhere between $250 million to half a billion, James Cameron’s Smurf-y space adventure Avatar started in the biggest hole in motion picture history, but the first weekend suggested that it could well climb its way out. Though the $73 million domestic take—enough to eke out first place over The Princess And The Frog by $61 million—was merely the second highest opening ever for the month of December (I Am Legend is first with $77 million), the snowpocalypse on East Coast dramatically affected receipts in major markets like New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington D.C. And considering the strong word of mouth and the steady performance of Cameron’s Titanic 12 years ago, the film stands to place high among all-time money-winners. That is, until it runs into a brick wall called Tooth Fairy on January 22nd.
As counterprogramming, a Hugh Grant romantic comedy must have seemed like a smart idea, but Americans were wise to pick up on the extreme awfulness radiating like stink lines from Do You Hear About The Morgans?, which opened to a paltry $7 million in fourth place. The Oscar front-runner Up In The Air continued to look healthy in expansion, adding more than double the screens from the previous week while still taking in $17,700 per screen. It finally goes wide on Christmas Day. Also performing well: The lifeless musical Nine took a whopping $62,000 per screen on four screens and Crazy Heart, the warmly received Jeff Bridges country vehicle, enjoyed $21,000 per screen.
For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.