Dear John bumps Avatar with $32.4M de­but

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS - BY DAVID GER­MAIN

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.

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