Box Office: Eli Can’t Close the Book on Avatar’s Reign

Eli and his humanity-changing book came close, but they couldn’t quite close the deal — for the fifth straight week, James Cameron’s “Avatar” reign supreme at the box office, taking the #1 spot for the fifth consecutive week with another $41 million addition to its already bloated domestic coffers. The film has made $1.6 billion in worldwide box office receipts so far, putting it just $240 million from the $1.8 billion milestone set by Cameron’s own “Titanic” in 1997. In terms of Stateside money, “Avatar” is third all-time, but needs only another $42 million to surpass the domestic total of Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight”. It will either accomplish that feat next week, or come very close.

The latest studio challenger to “Avatar’s” dominance came in the form of Warner Bros.’s post-apocalyptic action movie “The Book of Eli”, which opened strong at $31.6 million. That’s a very solid debut for star Denzel Washington, who hasn’t had much luck with box office flops “The Taking of Pelham 123” and “Deja Vu”, with “American Gangster” being the best of the three. It certainly gave “Avatar” a stronger competition than the Jackie Chan action-comedy “The Spy Next Door”, which didn’t make much of a dent at #6, debuting with $9.7 million. The family comedy stars Chan as a spy turned baby sitter. Comedy, as they say, ensues.

Peter Jackson’s “The Lovely Bones” opened wide for the first time this week, adding 2,560 screens to its previously very limited theatrical run. The additional screens were good enough for $17 million and the #3 spot. Budgeted at $100 million, the costly murder-mystery looks like it’s going to be fighting uphill to recoup its production costs from here on out. There are no such problems for Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes”, which slipped to fourth place in its fourth week, good enough for $9.8 million, and $180 million in 4 weeks of release. The period action film has made $311 worldwide, easily surpassing its estimated $90 million production cost.

Notable: Last week’s #4, the futuristic vampire horror movie “Daybreakers” fell out the Top 10 completely, landing at #11. Nevertheless, it still managed to take in another $5 million, giving it $24 million in two weeks of release. Though the numbers don’t look good on paper, the film was made on a relatively cheap $20 million budget, and there’s little doubt the film will do better on DVD and TV sales.

Box Office Top 10 (via):

.1 Avatar $41,300,000 $491,767,000 5
.2 The Book of Eli $31,615,000 $31,615,000 1
.3 The Lovely Bones $17,060,000 $17,527,000 6
.4 Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel $11,500,000 $192,592,000 4
.5 Sherlock Holmes $9,825,000 $180,018,000 4
.6 The Spy Next Door $9,700,000 $9,700,000 1
.7 It’s Complicated $7,672,000 $88,224,000 4
.8 Leap Year $5,828,000 $17,529,000 2
.9 The Blind Side $5,565,000 $226,774,000 9
.10 Up in the Air $5,460,000 $62,833,000 7