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Box Office Report: 'Avatar' is No. 1 again, soars past $1 billion worldwide

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Thanks to astronomic word-of-mouth, inflated 3-D ticket prices, and consecutive holiday weekends that began on a Friday, Avatar continued its seemingly unstoppable climb to the Hallelujah Mountains of U.S. and global box office. According to estimates from Hollywood.com Box Office, James Cameron’s sci-fi opus grossed $68.3 million over New Years weekend, a tiny 10 percent drop from Christmas weekend for a $352.1 million domestic total — easily the biggest third weekend in the U.S. ever (2002’s Spider-Man had held the record with $45 million). Much more impressively, in just 17 days, Avatar has surpassed $1 billion in global box office. To put that in perspective, it took The Dark Knight pretty much its entire theatrical run just to make it to that milestone. (Another landmark: $66.4 million of Avatar‘s worldwide total is from IMAX theaters, a record for the mega-screen format.)

Avatar wasn’t the only film to ring in the new year with serious box-office bounty, either. Sherlock Holmes sleuthed out an elementary $38.4 million for second place, a 41 percent drop for $140 million total. Hot on its heels, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel chirped to $36.6 million, dropping just 25 percent for $157 million total and third place. (So what will the inevitable third film be called? The Second SqueakquelThe Threakquel?) It’s Complicated fell a bite-sized 15 percent, cooking up $18.7 million for fourth place and $59.1 million total. And in fifth place, The Blind Side actually improved upon its total last week, rising 8 percent for $12.7 million and $209.1 million total. (As EW noted yesterday, this means star Sandra Bullock is the only actress ever to have a film marketed on her star power alone pass $200 million in U.S. box office.)

In fact, with no major debuts to steal away fresh audiences, it was simply a fabulous weekend to be in movie theaters, period. Up in the Air pitched down an imperceptible 3 percent with $11.3 million and $45 million total. The Princess and the Frog hopped up 11 percent with $10 million and $86 million total. Even certified turkey Did You Hear About the Morgans? was up 4 percent, bringing in $5.2 million for a (still woeful) $25.6 million total.

Overall, the top ten box office was up 70 percent from last year, when Marley and Me was barking its way into filmgoers’ hearts.

Image credit: WETA