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Box Office Report: 'Avatar' takes No. 1 with $73 million

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After months of breathless buzz, speculation, and doubt, James Cameron’s Avatar finally arrived in movie theaters nationwide, and its box office prognosis definitely isn’t blue. The 3-D sci-fi epic landed at number one with an estimated $73 million, according to Hollywood.com Box Office. The number is certainly on the lower end of expectations for the long-anticipated film, but considering that much of the east coast was buried under record snowfall for most of the weekend, it remains an unambiguously solid opening — the best 3-D debut ever and the second-best December debut behind I Am Legend. Also unambiguous: The film’s rock-solid “A” CinemaScore rating, which, along with the raves currently streaming across Twitter and inundating message boards (like this one), suggests it will grow long legs at the box office well into the new year. (It’s no wonder that IMAX screenings of the film reportedly sold-out every single seat.) Worldwide, the picture’s already banked an estimated $232.2 million.

The crappy weather appears to have suppressed all box-office totals, too. The Princess and the Frog hopped to second place with $12.2 million, a 50 percent drop from its wide debut last weekend, for $44.8 million total. The Blind Side caught $10.0 million for third place. With $164.7 million total, it officially surpasses The Proposal as the highest grossing film for star Sandra Bullock. Her old Two Weeks Notice co-star Hugh Grant, however, isn’t sharing the same box-office fate; Did You Hear About The Morgans?, his romcom with Sarah Jessica Parker, debuted at fourth place with a weak $7 million.

Up in the Air continued its stellar limited run, accruing $3.1 million for 8th place on just 175 screens, a 29 percent jump from last week for $8.1 million total. It opens wide on Dec. 23. Other Oscar-bait films opened in very limited release to strong returns. Movie musical Nine high-stepped to a $61,750 per location average in four theaters; biopic The Young Victoria earned $7,400 per theater in 20 locations; and music-inflected drama Crazy Heart strummed up $21,050 per theater in four locations.

Overall, despite the blizzard, box office was up a whopping 58 percent from last year, when the Jim Carrey comedy Yes Man was tops.

Image Credit: WETA