Box Office: Avatar Holds Off Sherlock Holmes, Meryl Streep, and Chipmunk Abominations

James Cameron’s “Avatar” is still king of the box office — though just barely. According to studio estimates, the sci-fi actioner that would change the way filmmaking is made for years to come (not to mention the marketing, natch) grossed $75 million in its second week of release, down just 2.6% from its first weekend. That gives the film $212 million in two weeks of release at the domestic box office, and already $615 million worldwide. I think it’s safe to say that the film’s bloated budget (estimated by some to be at the $500 million mark) was well spent. Word of mouth about the film’s wow special effects, it seems, has taken hold of the public.

“Avatar’s” $75 million gave it $10 million more than the debut of Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes”, its closest competitor which took in $65 million over a record-breaking weekend for Hollywood. The period action film, a more “modern” take on the legendary Sherlock Holmes, stars Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, and tickled enough audience fancy to increase the weekend box office to $278 million. That number surpasses the then-record $253 million set last year in June, which was then buoyed by the gargantuan success of Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight”.

Besides “Sherlock Holmes” at second place, the CG children’s flick “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” managed to squeak its way to third place with $50 million, easily beating out the Meryl Streep chick flick “It’s Complicated”. Streep’s adult-focused romantic comedy opened in fourth place with $22 million, once again proving that although most of the readers of this site would never see a movie just because “it stars Meryl Streep”, there’s plenty of moviegoers who will. Meanwhile, in indie land, Terry Gilliam’s “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” opened in limited release, bowing in a four scant screens for a $130,000 take.

Notables: Sandra Bullock’s “The Blind Side” slipped three spots to #6 with another $11.7 million, giving it $184 million in six weeks of release. The slip was expected given the increased competition. Meanwhile, Summit’s “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” fell completely out of the Top 10, settling into the eleventh spot in its own sixth week at the box office. The vampire-werewolf teen movie has made an estimated $281 million at the domestic box office so far, and $662 million worldwide. At this rate, Summit Entertainment may want to look into commissioning a statue of author Stephenie Meyer for their headquarters.

Box Office Top 10 (via) [Italics Denotes New Release]:

.1 Avatar $75,000,000 $212,268,000 2
.2 Sherlock Holmes $65,380,000 $65,380,000 1
.3 Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel $50,200,000 $77,051,000 1
.4 It’s Complicated $22,114,000 $22,114,000 1
.5 Up in the Air $11,755,000 $24,518,000 4
.6 The Blind Side $11,730,000 $184,387,000 6
.7 The Princess and the Frog $8,683,000 $63,357,000 5
.8 Nine $5,544,000 $5,922,000 2
.9 Did You Hear About the Morgans? $5,000,000 $15,597,000 2
.10 Invictus $4,390,000 $23,365,000 3