urx unit loader 'Avatar,' 'Sherlock Holmes' lead huge box office weekend    only 'Nine' disappoints
avatar 320 'Avatar,' 'Sherlock Holmes' lead huge box office weekend    only 'Nine' disappointsFrom the Los Angeles Times’ Company Town.

20th Century Fox’s 3-D event film “Avatar” led the box office with a
studio-estimated $75-million take in the U.S. and Canada.

Its minuscule
drop of just 3% from last weekend’s opening is a sign of extremely
strong word of mouth and is continuing to fuel industry buzz that it
could end up as one of the highest-grossing movies of all time,
alongside “Avatar” director James Cameron’s “Titanic.” That would
easily justify the massive $430 million that Fox and its financing
partners invested in production and marketing.

“Avatar” has
grossed $212.3 million domestically in just 10 days. As with other
pictures, international grosses weren’t available yet early this

The new adaptation of “Sherlock Holmes” starring Robert
Downey Jr. was also a hit this weekend, opening to a very strong $65.4
million domestically. Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Entertainment
spent $90 million to produce the movie after the benefit of British tax
credits, putting them in a very good financial starting position.

family film “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel,” meanwhile,
grossed $50.2 million for the weekend. With healthy ticket sales on its
first two days in theaters, Wednesday and Thursday, it has grossed a
total of $77.1 million in five days. Fox and New Regency Entertainment
spent $70 million to produce the follow-up to 2007’s original
big-screen version of the singing rodents and appear to have  another
hit on their hands.

The top three movies were drawing audiences
of all ages, particularly families going out together for the holiday.
Two other films aimed primarily at adults also did well, although one
other movie missed the mark.

The weekend’s single disappointment was “Nine.” The Broadway musical
adaptation from Weinstein Co. opened to a weak $5.5 million, bringing
its total since last Friday to $5.9 million. Unless it picks up
momentum from awards and audience buzz, it could be a major money loser
for the struggling Weinstein Co. and its financing partner Relativity
Media. Together they spent about $64 million to make the movie, which
stars Daniel Day-Lewis and Nicole Kidman.

Read the full story at the Los Angeles Times’ Company Town blog.

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‘Sherlock Holmes’ smashes Christmas Day opening box office record
‘Avatar’ soars overseas

Photo credit: 20th Century Fox