Avatar wins the weekend and the world but is bested a bit by winter wonderland
Pamela McCliintock of Variety
Twentieth Century Fox and James Cameron's "Avatar" grossed $232.2 million in its worldwide debut to post the best global launch ever for a non-sequel, including a strong domestic bow of $73 million that had to overcome the worst blizzard in decades on the East Coast.
The storm paralyzed major cities, affecting the box office across the board. Northern Europe also got stung by a major winter storm that saw brutally cold temps and piled cities, including Paris, with snow.
Sony saw a disappointing launch for Hugh Grant-Sarah Jessica Parker topliner "Did You Hear About the Morgans?" Romantic comedy grossd $7 million from 2,718 theaters to place No. 4 after "Avatar," Disney's "The Princess and the Frog" ($12.2 million) and Warner Bros.' "The Blind Side" ($10 million).
At the specialty box office, the Weinstein Co.'s Rob Marshall-directed musical "Nine" dazzled with the best per location average of the weekend at $71,733. Film grossed an estimated $246,933 as it opened in four locations.
Paramount's George Clooney starrer placed No. 8 for the weekend, grossing an estimated $3.1 million from just 175 theaters for a per location average of $17,714.
The impact of the blizzard in the Northeast was reflected in performances across the board.
Still, "Avatar" scored the second-best launch on record for a film debuting in December, where opening weekends aren't as big, but multiples are far greater because of the lucrative Christmas-New Year's holiday.
A film normally can expect to gross three times its opening weekend, but year-end films can see multiples of four and five.
No. 1 December opening was scored by Warner Bros. Will Smith-starrer "I Am Legend" ($77.2 million).
"Avatar" narrowly bested the $72.6 million posted by Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" in its first weekend. That pic grossed $377 million domestically.
The critically acclaimed "Avatar" posted glowing exits, earning an A or A+ CinemaScore across all demos.
More analysis from EW:
Total is on lower end of expectations, depressed by weather, but signs point to solid run in coming weeks....