'Avatar' blasts past $1 billion worldwide

10:46 AM PST 01/03/2010 by Frank Segers, AP

James Cameron's 3D epic hits the mark in just 21 days

"Avatar" started the new decade dominating the foreign circuit by grossing $136.8 million on the weekend -- down just 10% from the prior stanza -- from 13,784 screens in 109 markets.
 
Worldwide in just 21 days, director James Cameron's mega-budget epic has rolled up total boxoffice of $1.029 billion (comprising $676.9 million offshore and $352.1 million domestic).
 
Only five films in motion picture history have exceeded worldwide boxoffice of more than $1 billion, and "Avatar" now ranks at No. 4 on that all-time list.
 
Preceding it are Cameron's own 1997 smash "Titanic" ($1.843 billion) from 20th Century Fox, the distributor of "Avatar"; 2003's "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" ($1.119 billion) from New Line Cinema; and 2006's "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" ($1.066 billion), from Disney. Trailing "Avatar" is 2008's "The Dark Knight" ($1.001 billion), from Warner Bros.
 
"At the current pace of business," adds Fox, "Avatar" could claim the No. 2 all-time spot this week "even with school holidays ending in many markets."
 
Top "Avatar" territories overseas were France ($22.4 million on the weekend for a $85.6 million market cume), Germany ($11.2 million, cume $56.1 million), Spain ($9.9 million, cume $46.1 million) and the U.K. ($9.7 million, cume $53.3 million).

China opens Monday with an Italy bow to follow Jan. 15.
 
No. 2 foreign on the weekend was Warner Bros.' "Sherlock Homes," director Guy Ritchie's adaptation co-starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law of the venerable Sir Arthur Conan Doyle detective series. Its second weekend on the foreign circuit detected $37.5 million from 4,540 screens in 33 markets for an early cume of $86.2 million.

"Holmes' " No. 2 finish in the U.K. provided $5.5 million from 484 sites for a market cume of $19.3 million. A No. 2 Mexico opening drew $3.4 million from 459 screens.
 
Finishing third was Fox's family-oriented title "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel," which grossed $31.8 million from 6,095 locations in 54 markets. Overseas cume stands at a hair under $100 million ($99.8 million). A No. 3 U.K. finish generated $4 million from 489 spots for a market cume of $20.6 million.
 
Opening at No. 4 on the weekend was Disney Animation's '"The Princess and the Frog," which drew $9.1 million from 2,929 screens in 17 territories for an overseas cume of $45 million. A third Italy weekend provided $2.9 million from 550 sites for a market cume of $12.9 million.

Winding up at No. 5 and opening in Russia, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania was Universal's release of "Black Lightning," co-produced by the studio and Russian wunderkind producer-director Timur Bekmambetov." Being touted as "the Russian response to 'Transformers' and 'Batman,' " "Lightning" drew $8.4 million from 802 screens.
 
In Russia, the weekend tally was $7.9 million from 698 locations, sufficient for a No. 2 ranking behind "Avatar." Universal ranks "Black Lightning," directed by Alexander Voytinsky and concerning a mild-mannered student-turned-flying superhero, as the distributor's fourth-biggest opening in the market. Openings in Israel and Bulgaria loom this week.
 
Universal's "It's Complicated," a comedy from writer-director Nancy Meyers co-starring Meryl Streep, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, drew $4.9 million in its second weekend on the foreign circuit from 1,080 sites in 13 territories. Overseas cume stands at $13.7 million.
 
Sony's "Did You Hear About the Morgans?" generated $3.2 million from 637 locales in just seven markets, nudging its total overseas gross thus far to $5.7 million. The romantic comedy co-starring Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker finished the weekend in the No. 4 spot in the U.K., taking in nearly $1.9 million from 399 screens.
 
"2012," Sony's top-grossing picture of 2009 overseas, pushed its offshore cume to $595.6 million thanks to a $4.9 million weekend at 3,164 sites in 72 markets. "Disney's A Christmas Carol" generated $3.9 million on the weekend from 2,952 screens in 42 territories, pushing its offshore cume to $181.9 million.
 
Still generating boxoffice in Japan at 616 situations was Pixar/Disney's "Up," which has grossed a Japan cume of $39.8 million and an overall total of $422 million offshore since May. Its weekend tally was $2.9 million.

Disney's "Old Dogs," a comedy with John Travota and Robin Williams, generated $2.7 million from 1,264 locales in 20 markets for an overseas cume of $25.4 million.
 
Other international cumes: Summit International's "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," $394.3 million (after a $3 million weekend at 5,400 screens in 66 markets); Universal's "Couples Retreat," $52.9 million; Warner's "Zweiohrkuken," $38.7 million from Germany and Austria only; Sony's "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs," $83.7 million (after a $2.6 million weekend at 645 screens in 21 markets); Universal's "Inglourious Basterds," $198.9 million; Pathe's "Loup," $7.8 million (France only); Disney's "Everybody's Fine," $1.6 million; Focus Features/Universal's "A Serious Man," $8.7 million; and Fox's "Fantastic Mr. Fox," $15.8 million.

Also, Paramount's "The Lovely Bones," $3 million from Australia and New Zealand only; Sony's "Zombieland," $23 million; Universal's "Public Enemies," $116.2 million; EuropaCorp. Distribution's "Arthur et la vengeance de Maltazard," $31.6 million (over five frames, France only); Paramount's "Case 39," $11.2 million; Sony's "Zombieland," $23.1 million; Studio Canal's "R.T.T.," $7.7 million (France only); Paramount's "Celda 221," $13.7 million from Spain only; Focus Features/Universal's "9," $15.9 million; Paramount's "Law Abiding Citizen," $9.8 million; Focus Features' "Love Happens," $9.4 million; and Toei's "One Piece Film: Strong World," $39 million after four rounds in Japan only.



2009's top grossing flms overseas (2009 total only)

1. "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" (Fox), released in June, $690.5 million

2. "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Warner Bros.), released in July, $632 million

3. "2012" (Sony), released in November, $590.7 million

4. "Avatar" (Fox)*, released in December, $545 million

5. "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" (DreamWorks/Paramount), released in June, $433.2 million

6. "Up" (Pixar/Disney)*, released in May, $418.8 million

7. "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" (Summit International)*, released in November, $391.3 million

8. "Angels & Demons" (Sony), released in May, $352.6 million

9. "Terminator Salvation" (Sony), released in May, $246.8 million

10. "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" (Fox), released in May, $237.4 million

*Still in release
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