The statistic to keep in mind, I think, is that Avatar's $73 million opening weekend is the second best December opening ever, behind I Am Legend, which was almost an hour shorter and did not have to deal with a blizzard that paralyzed much of the northeast corridor. So (my ridiculously hasty prediction last week notwithstanding) I don't think Fox and James Cameron have much to worry about or fear. Especially considering that the movie has already raked in $160 million overseas. And especially considering that of the 30 movies that have had heftier opening weekends, precisely zero were originals -- i.e. not sequels, remakes or adaptations -- unless you count The Passion of the Christ. And especially considering that the word-of-mouth on Avatar will probably be otherworldly.

The weekend's counterprogramming was the poorly reviewed rom-com Did You Hear About the Morgans?, which took in a middling $7 million -- actually not very much off-par for Hugh Grant, who's never really been able to open a movie. (The jury's still out on Sarah Jessica Parker outside of Sex and the City.) Continuing to perform well were Oscar contenders The Blind Side (which will probably end up just shy of $200 million) and Up in the Air (which continued its slow roll-out and will go wide on Christmas day). The Princess and the Frog did not hold up too well, but its returns may improve over the holiday break.

Update: Variety reports that Avatar actually grossed $77.3 million, giving it the biggest December opening ahead of I Am Legend's $77.2 million.

The full top 10 after the jump.



1 - Avatar (Fox) - $73.00 ($21,147) - $73.00
2 - The Princess and the Frog (Disney) - $12.22 ($3,518) - $44.76
3 - The Blind Side (Warner Bros.) - $10.03 ($2,944) - $164.73
4 - Did You Hear About the Morgans? (Sony) - $7.00 ($2,575) - $7.00
5 - The Twilight Saga: New Moon (Summit) - $4.37 ($1,440) - $274.56
6 - Invictus (Warner Bros.) - $4.17 ($1,962) - $15.85
7 - A Christmas Carol (Disney) - $3.42 ($1,652) - $130.79
8 - Up in the Air (Paramount) - $3.10 ($17,714) - $8.11
9 - Brothers (Lionsgate) - $2.63 ($1,309) - $22.09
10 - Old Dogs (Disney) - $2.29 ($870) - $43.57

Next week: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, It's Complicated and Sherlock Holmes, along with expansions for Nine and Up in the Air. Merry Christmas.