LOS ANGELES - James Cameron's "Avatar" is on a course tosink "Titanic" at the box office.
No. 1 for the sixth-straight weekend with $36 million, the 20thCentury Fox sci-fi spectacle lifted its domestic total to $552.8million, according to studio estimates Sunday. "Avatar" raisedits worldwide total to $1.841 billion. That's $2 million shy offirst place behind Cameron's last movie, the 1997 shipwreck epic"Titanic," at $1.843 billion.
"It defies all superlatives," said Chris Aronson, head ofdistribution for Fox.
The studio said "Avatar" has hit $1.29 billion ininternational ticket sales, passing the $1.24 billion mark set by"Titanic." The saga set on the alien world of Pandora is also enroute to overtake "Titanic" in domestic sales. After 37 days intheaters, "Avatar" soared past "The Dark Knight" on Saturday tobecome the second highest grossing film.
"We're witnessing box office history," said PaulDergarabedian, box office analyst for Hollywood.com. "We'rewatching all of these big records fall, and there doesn't seem tobe an end in sight. 'Avatar' is dominating at a time where it hasno big summer blockbusters to compete with it. It's perfectlypoised to keep breaking all these records."
"Avatar" is also positioned to win acclaim during awardsseason. While the computer-assisted performances didn't earn anyhonors at Saturday's Screen Actors Guild Awards, it captured thebest drama and director trophies at last week's Golden Globes andis considered a likely best-picture front runner when Oscarnominations are announced Feb. 2.
Screen Gems' apocalyptic thriller "Legion," featuring PaulBettany as an Armageddon-fighting fallen angel, debuted behind"Avatar" at No. 2 with $18.2 million. Fox's family fantasy comedy"Tooth Fairy," starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as a hockeyplayer who spreads his wings as a magical deity, took flight in theNo. 4 spot with $14.5 million.
Warner Bros. grabbed the No. 3 position with "The Book of Eli"at $17 million in its second week, despite three other filmsdebuting in wide release this weekend. The post-apocalyptic actionflick stars Denzel Washington as a traveling prophet who battles avillainous gang leader played by Gary Oldman while protecting thelast known Bible.
The medical drama "Extraordinary Measures," the first filmfrom new distributor CBS Films, opened with a disappointing $7million in the No. 7 position. The film features Harrison Ford and
Brendan Fraser as a doctor and businessman who collaborate todevelop a drug that will treat a rare genetic disorder affectingchildren.
"It did well in middle America," said Steven Friedlander, headof distribution for CBS Films. "This is not a shoot-'em-up orfantasy film. It's the true story of people doing courageousthings, and it's building good word of mouth. This is the kind ofmovie that plays well to a family friendly crowd who doesn't needto see the movie the weekend it opens."
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. andCanadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com. Final figures willbe released Monday.
1. "Avatar," $36 million.
2. "Legion," $18.2 million.
2. "The Book of Eli," $17 million.
3. "Tooth Fairy," $14.5 million.
5. "The Lovely Bones," $8.8 million.
6. "Sherlock Holmes," $7.1 million.
7. "Extraordinary Measures," $7 million.
8. "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel," $6.5 million.
9. "It's Complicated," $6.2 million.
10. "The Spy Next Door," $4.8 million.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times