James Cameron Filmmaker Genius
1 Avatar $48,500,000 (-29.2%) $14,173 $429,040,000
2 Sherlock Holmes $16,610,000 (-54.6%) $4,581 $165,178,000
3 Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel $16,300,000 (-53.7%) $4,477 $178,184,000
4 Daybreakers $15,000,000 $5,945 $15,000,000
5 It’s Complicated $11,007,000 (-41.5%) $3,725 $76,370,000
6 Leap Year $9,165,000 $3,650 $9,165,000
7 The Blind Side $7,750,000 (-34.9%) $2,691 $219,197,000
8 Up in the Air $7,100,000 (-33.8%) $3,201 $54,700,000
9 Youth in Revolt $7,000,000 $3,737 $7,000,000
10 The Princess and the Frog $4,700,000 (-52.2%) $1,794 $92,600,000

This just in: dude said he was going to go “all R. Kelly on that girl.”

If you follow the numbers, even if you don’t like a thing, it’s impossible not to appreciate the grace of a beautiful athlete. If you’re a sports fan, and you can’t appreciate a great play made against your team, then maybe you don’t really love sports. And though more than half of the domestic (un-inflated) grosses of all time come from this decade, and having a film hit $200 Million (like The Blind Side), $300 (Spider-Man 3) or even $400 (Transformers 2) isn’t all that rare for small or not good movies, when a film performs like this you can’t help but marvel.

How much of that is the inflated gross based on the Imax screens and 3-D? A lot, but let’s not focus on that. Here are the stats of the moment:

- #1 2009 Gross (crossing Transformers 2 yesterday)
- #2 Worldwide ALL TIME ($511 Million behind Titanic)
- #7 All time domestic (with The Phantom Menace at $431, it will be #6 tomorrow, Avatar is off $172 Million from Titanic)
- #58 All time adjusted for inflation

If that last stat sounds like a joke, it isn’t. That’s pretty huge. It won’t crack the top 20 unless it does over $610 Million. That’s the history of cinema we’re talking about.

Bottom line: There’s no way Fox can hide the money on this one. I was talking to someone this weekend, and it sounds like the sequel is all but assured. Whether Cameron goes Lucas OT or PT is unknown. Since these things (even with the advancements in technology) take a long ass time, Fox might be throwing money at Cameron to Git ‘er Done. In that sense Summit is smart to make the Twilight films as fast as they possibly can. You never know if something has imprinted itself on our culture or is just popular for the moment. A fad if you will. And the one thing that proves that (the passage of time) only works one way. But man is born merely to die, so fuck hot hoes, as Plato once opined. The film only fell 30%, but next week it’s going up against The Book of Eli. Titanic has the record for the highest fifth weekend gross, which is $30 Million, and if Avatar sees a leveling out, and does $30-40 Million until March 5, well, that would be nuts. I’m going to assume without looking at the upcoming weekdays that it’s doing $30 next weekend without question, which will put it at – at the very least – $470 (again, that puts it at #3 all time domestic, passing Star Wars). If this behemoth flat-lines it will do $76 Million from Monday to Sunday, which would get it to $500. Next weekend is something of a holiday weekend but a more realistic thought process is closer to a $480 Million total by Sunday, which mean it will get over $500 the weekend after. And it wouldn’t be done, so it would be about having the strength and longevity to get past Titanic.

The Book of Eli is looking for the top slot, and though I haven’t heard much more than mixed reports, Denzel likely means a $30 Million plus opening weekend for an action/genre entry. 1/22 has The Tooth Fairy, and 1/29 has Mel Gibson’s return to mainstream cinema with Edge of Darkness, sugar tits. All of those films could open to over $30, which puts Avatar in a more awkward position than Titanic, which ddn’t have much to deal with.

But to give it hope, neither Alvin and the Chipmunks or Sherlock Holmes have hit the #1 spot for more than a day, and both should be able to get themselves to a $200 Million dollar gross. Sherlock is going to be closer, and I’m guessing that even though the film will double its reported $90 Million dollar budget, Warners will wait until they see some strong international numbers before they greenlight a sequel (currently the worldwide isn’t bad). But the franchise is Downey and he’s got Iron Man 2, this summer, so he could probably care less. The biggest problem with the film is that though it’s doing great business, it’s not the conversation. Avatar is the conversation. the film will be profitable by theiraccounts so it looks like it all depends on how tumultous the production was for the sequel. It’s strange that I don’t see Warners jumping up and down for a follow up as of yet, and they’ve had their chance. Maybe Downey’ whole “our haracters are gay” was his way of fucking a sequel, maybe the bonuses of doing a sequel for the returning cast and crew make it a bad investment. Dunno. Alvin is – as it was last week – a hovercraft full of win. In the old days, I’m sure if a film did this well, someone got a truckload of hookers and blow. I’ve heard stories about the hookers-and-blow truck man, driving from location to location, chatting up such celebrities as Dan Dureya, Arnold Stang and Arthur Hunnicuttt. Those dudes knew how to party.

Everything that opened this weekend did shit. The best of the bunch is Daybreakers, but horror films have a tendancy to collapse. Word is good on the film, so maybe it gets to $40 million, and that would be a big victory. Amy Adams is opening off season with the dude from Watchmen and Match Point. In a comedy that looks like poop. Though I am reasonably attracted to the woman, Adams has no great currency with film goers. Her brand label is not pronounced even with Enchanted – which was more the concept than her, per se – and films like this always come across as the generic-brand porno mag version of Rom-coms. Youth in theaters for 11 more days.

It’s Complicated looks to be clearing the hundred hurdle (and probably killed Leap Year), as might The Princess and the Frog. Up in the Air added runs and fell. It should get some award bounces, and a seven million weekend ain’t grits, but the film isn’t entering the conversation. Avatar has sucked the air out of a lot of things, and a film like Up needs to have more think pieces written about it to be a front runner. We still have some time though, and the pic might limp to $100, but that feels out of range.

More Avatar next week, ladies and gents.