"Avatar" box office hits $1.3 billion worldwide

Sun Jan 10, 2010 1:59pm EST
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Avatar" ruled the worldwide box office for a fourth weekend on Sunday, creeping closer to the all-time record held by writer/director James Cameron's earlier effort "Titanic," distributor 20th Century Fox said on Sunday.

Cameron's 3-D sci-fi epic earned $191.5 million over the weekend, taking its global total to $1.3 billion.

"Avatar" passed the $1.12 billion tally of "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" last Wednesday to become the second-highest worldwide release ever, trailing only "Titanic" with worldwide sales of $1.84 billion in 1997-1998. Data are not adjusted for inflation, and "Avatar" sales are also inflated by premium prices for 3-D screenings.

The North American contribution rose to $429 million, with weekend sales of $48.5 million propelling the movie to the No. 7 slot in the record books.

Fox, a unit of News Corp, said it expects "Avatar" to challenge the 2008 Batman sequel "The Dark Knight" ($533 million) for the No. 2 slot. "Titanic" holds the U.S.-Canada title with $601 million.

"Avatar" set a new record for fourth-weekend sales, having already set new marks for its second and third weekends. The film is enjoying strong holds every weekend as fans return for repeat viewings and occasional moviegoers show up to see what the fuss is all about.

The last film to enjoy four consecutive weekends at No. 1 was "The Dark Knight." "Titanic" was tops for a record 15 consecutive weekends.


Its biggest challenge next weekend will come from "The Book of Eli," a post-apocalyptic action film starring Denzel Washington. His movies usually open in the $20 million range, with the notable exception of 2007's "American Gangster," which kicked off with $43 million.   Continued...