Dear John bumps Avatar with $32.4M debut
LOS ANGELES — A sci-fi love story has given way to an earthbound romance at the box office, livening up typically slow times at theatres over Super Bowl weekend. Released by Sony’s Screen Gems banner, Dear
John debuted as the No. 1 movie with $32.4 million, knocking off Avatar after seven weekends in first place, according to studio estimates Sunday.
“It is very cool to know that it was our movie that audiences just totally embraced and made No. 1 for the weekend,” said Rory Bruer, head of distribution at Sony. As for runaway blockbuster Avatar, he quipped, “I think they’re going to be fine in the long run.”
Avatar slipped to No. 2 with $23.6 million, raising its domestic total to $630.1 million. Directed by James Cameron, 20th Century Fox’s Avatar surpassed his own Titanic, which had held the domestic revenue record at $600.8 million.
With a record $2.2 billion worldwide, Avatar also has soared past the $1.8 billion Titanic took in globally.
Factoring in today’s higher admission prices, however, Avatar has sold fewer tickets than Titanic.
Avatar had been No. 1 domestically longer than any movie since 1997’s Titanic, which held on at first place for 15 weekends. The studio was unconcerned that Avatar finally fell out of the top spot.
“It had to happen sometime,” said 20th Century Fox distribution executive Bert Livingston. “ There’s nothing that could disappoint me with this movie.”
By the eighth weekend, most Hollywood movies have long since dropped out of the top 10 rankings.
Avatar still is going strong after eight weeks, with the added lustre of a monthlong buildup to the Academy Awards on March 7. Following the example of Oscar champ Titanic, Avatar tied for the lead at the Academy Awards with nine nominations and is a front-runner to win best picture.
Fox executives would not speculate what number Avatar eventually might hit at the box office.
“ Who knows what that is? It just keeps on going,” Livingston said.
The weekend’s other new wide release, Lionsgate’s spy story From Paris With Love, opened at No. 3 with $8.1 million. The movie stars John Travolta and Jonathan Rhys Meyers as CIA men trying to crack a terrorist plot. Fox Searchlight’s acclaimed country-music tale
Crazy Heart expanded from narrow release and broke into the top 10, coming in at No. 8 with $3.7 million. Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal have acting Oscar nominations for the film, which follows a boozy country star trying to turn his life around.
Factoring in higher ticket prices this year, though, movie attendance is down 0.5 per cent.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theatres, according to Hollywood.com. Final figures will be released today. 1. Dear John, $32.4 million. 2. Avatar, $23.6 million. 3. From Paris With Love, $8.1 million. 4. Edge of Darkness, $7 million. 5. The Tooth Fairy, $6.5 million. 6. When in Rome, $5.5 million. 7. The Book of Eli, $4.8 million. 8. Crazy Heart, $3.7 million. 9. Legion, $3.4 million. 10. Sherlock Holmes, $2.6 million.