Avatar may have been knocked off the top position at the box office by The Book of Eli momentarily on Friday, but it roared back on Saturday and Sunday, winding up with an estimated $41.3 million for the three-day period to bring its domestic total to $491.8 million. The result pushed it past Star Wars to make it the third-highest-grossing film of all time, behind The Dark Knight with $533 million and Titanic with $601 million. Avatar is expected to race past The Dark Knight before the end of next weekend (it has the fourth day of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday going for it tomorrow) and now seems certain to pass Titanic, which took in $30.01 million in its fifth weekend. The Book of Eli, starring Denzel Washington, also performed strongly as it opened with $31.62 million. But Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones turned out to be the real stunner as it raked in about $17 million -- nearly twice what most box-office gurus had predicted. The film had received mostly negative reviews and had disappointed in limited release. But Paramount had refused to throw in the towel and instead reportedly spent millions revamping its marketing campaign to focus on teenage girls and young women, who had given the film a thumbs-up at the earlier screenings. The strategy appears to have worked -- in spades.

The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Box Office Mojo 1. Avatar, $41.3 million; 2. The Book of Eli , $31.62 million; 3. The Lovely Bones, $17 million; 4. Alvin and the Chipmunks The Squeakquel, $11.50 million; 5. Sherlock Holmes, $9.83 million; 6. The Spy Next Door, $9.70 million; 7. It's Complicated, $7.67 million; 8. Leap Year, $5.23 million; 9. The Blind Side , $5.57 million; 10. Up in the Air, $5.46 million.

18/01/2010