'Dear John' tops 'Avatar' at Friday b.o.

Romance breaks 'Avatar's' seven-week streak

It was love that slayed the mighty "Avatar" -- or, at least, knocked it out of the top position at the boxoffice that it has commanded for the previous seven weeks.

Tatum Channing and Amanda Seyfried, who play the young lovers of Lasse Hallstrom's PG-13-rated "Dear John," based on a novel by Nicholas ("The Notebook") Sparks, proved to be more popular than expected. Sony/Screen Gems' release of the Relativity production took in an estimated $13.8 million on Friday in 2,969 theaters.

That puts it on track to take in more than $30 million over the weekend, although it will still have to contend with East Coast snowstorms and Super Bowl Sunday.

About Town gallery  

Meanwhile, the ever-reliable "Avatar," the beneficiary of nine Oscar nominations on Tuesday, shifted into second place for the day as it picked up an additional $6.2 million.

"From Paris with Love," the weekend's other new wide release, checked in in third place. The R-rated action pic, directed by "Taken's" Pierre Morel, and starring John Travolta and Jonathan Rhys Meyers, pulled in nearly $3 million in 2,722 locales for distributor Lionsgate.

Rounding out the top five, the second weekend of the Mel Gibson starrer "Edge of Darkness" ranked fourth. The Warners release brought in $2.3 million.

Close behind in fifth was the second weekend of Fox's family film, "The Tooth Fairy," which attracted $1.6 million.

While Warner's "Sherlock Holmes" was hanging on in tenth place with almost $800,000 for the day, that holiday release is positioned to hit the $200 million mark today.