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Opening day: ‘Dear John’ headed toward surprise win over ‘Avatar’

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The reign of ‘Avatar’ at the box office is ending a week earlier than expected.

Based on Friday ticket sales, Sony Pictures’ romantic tear-jerker ‘Dear John’ is headed toward a much stronger-than-expected opening weekend of more than $30 million, which would make it the most popular movie in the U.S. and Canada. 20th Century Fox’s ‘Avatar’ is on track to gross $22 million or $23 million.

‘Dear John,’ based on a novel by ‘The Notebook’ author Nicholas Sparks, sold $13.8 million worth of tickets Friday, according to Sony. Fox said the 3-D blockbuster ‘Avatar’ took in $6.8 million.

‘Avatar’ has ruled the box office for seven straight weeks and had been expected to do so one final time, based on surveys of potential moviegoers.

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Lionsgate’s John Travolta action picture ‘From Paris With Love,’ meanwhile, collected just $3 million Friday and is headed toward a disappointing weekend debut of less than $10 million.
-- Ben Fritz


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