'Avatar' poised for fifth weekend win

Movie earns $41.3 mil with one day left in holiday frame

James Cameron's "Avatar" is steaming toward another weekend win.

The boxoffice behemoth dropped just 18% from its previous Friday-Sunday tally for an estimated $41.3 million through Sunday, with its $491.8 million domestic cume part of a $1.61 billion worldwide tally.

Nielsen EDI considers the weekend a four-day frame including the Martin Luther King holiday on Monday, and "Avatar" is all but certain to top rankings for a fifth consecutive session – the first such feat since Disney's "The Sixth Sense" managed such a string of No. 1 weekends in 1999.

"Avatar" is expected to surpass $500 million in domestic boxoffice on Monday, its 32nd day in release. That would beat the 45-day record set by "The Dark Knight" in 2008; "Titanic" took 98 days.

Meantime, Warner Bros. opened Alcon Entertainment's Denzel Washington starrer "The Book of Eli" with $31.6 million through Sunday. That was good for second place on the three-day period, though "Eli" managed to out-muscle "Avatar" briefly in Friday rankings before the Fox film popped back up like a horror-film stalker.

On an all-time worldwide basis, "Avatar" ranks behind only Cameron's "Titanic," which stowed away $1.84 billion in 1997-98. There's growing sentiment that "Avatar" just might cruise past the disaster pic into the record books eventually.

Elsewhere this weekend, Lionsgate's family actioner "The Spy Next Door," starring Jackie Chan, debuted with $9.7 million in sixth place headed into the final day of the holiday-stretched session.

Paramount's Peter Jackson-helmed "The Lovely Bones" rung up $17.1 million in third place, after expanding from limited to wide release. Cume for the literary adaptation climbed to $17.5 million.

Two pics that opened a week earlier -- "Leap Year" from Universal and "Daybreakers" from Lionsgate -- grossed $5.8 million and $5 million, respectively, for the latest Friday-Sunday span. "Leap Year" -- running in eighth place on the frame -- totes a $17.5 million cume, and "Daybreakers" reached $24.2 million while tumbling from the weekend top 10.

Another second-weekend title -- Dimension Films' youth comedy "Youth in Revolt" -- also fell from the top rankings, with its 59% weekend-over-weekend slide producing a three-day tally of $2.8 million and a $12 million cume.

Co-directed by Allen and Albert Hughes, R-rated "Eli" represents the brothers' first theatrical feature since 2001's "From Hell." Co-starring Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis and Tom Waits, "Eli" is skewing significantly male.

Directed by Brian Levant ("Are We There Yet?"), "Spy" is rated PG.