Inside Pulse Box Office Report: Dear John Dethrones Avatar from #1

Wow, I must admit that I’m a bit surprised at Dear John finishing the weekend at number one. Guess you should never underestimate the combination of women and chick lit. Film adaptations of Nicolas Sparks novels seem to pull in a big female audience, though this was the first adaptation to rake in more than $30 million for an opening weekend. For comparison purposes, The Notebook (so far the highest grossing Sparks adaptation) opened with $13 million and slowly built its box office earnings during Summer 2004.

The winner in all this is Lasse Hallstrom who hasn’t had much success with theatrical distribution of late. (His last film went straight to DVD.) All it took was aligning himself with a property that was guaranteed at least a strong opening weekend. I suspect concessions were made and men were willing to give up ninety minutes of their life for control of the TV on Super Bowl Sunday. And what they got was their girlfriends or wives staring eyes agape at Channing Tatum, while they themselves tried to avoid the tractor beam gaze of Amanda Seyfried’s, um, bountiful chest.

Avatar‘s box-office dominance couldn’t last forever, but to lose to such an average romantic drama is pitiful. Trivia question: Name the film that dethroned Titanic from the top spot?

With Avatar reigning supreme as the highest grossing film of all time – as far as money earned, not tickets sold – it may be too early to tell if it will leave a lasting impression on the medium of film or if it will become a pop culture reference about the early years of the 21st century.

Coming in a distant third with $8.1 million was John Travolta’s From Paris With Love. Of the eleven new releases of 2010 that I’ve seen, this one is by far the best movie-watching experience I’ve had. Self deprecating humor by Travolta, action sequences where you don’t have to struggle to decipher what’s going on (Paul Greengrass may want to take note) and a decent story, as far as action-oriented pictures go. Unfortunately, it along with Mel Gibson’s Edge of Darkness are trying to attract the same audience. Liam Neeson’s Taken didn’t have that problem last year. Though, I wager older audiences would rather see Neeson in Jack Bauer mode than Travolta’s scenery chewing.

Outside the top three, The Tooth Fairy continues modest business, taking in another $6.5 million. Denzel Washington’s The Book of Eli is on the verge of eclipsing $90 million domestically, and Legion is not quite ready to leave the top 10 and head to box office purgatory.

My prediction that The Blind Side would re-enter the top 10 after Sandra Bullock got her Oscar nomination was wrong, just missing the mark by a few thousands. But I did say Crazy Heart would see an increase in theater showings. I was right on that account – the film expanded into 800 theaters. It had a box office take of $3.7 million for the three-day period.

1. Dear John – $32.4 million
2. Avatar – $23.6 million ($630 mil.)
3. From Paris With Love – $8.1 million
4. Edge of Darkness – $7 million ($29 mil.)
5. The Tooth Fairy – $6.5 million ($34 mil.)
6. When In Rome – $5.5 million ($21 mil.)
7. Book of Eli- $4.8 million ($82 mil.)
8. Crazy Heart – $3.7 million ($11 mil.)
9. Legion – $3.4 million ($34 mil.)
10. Sherlock Holmes – $2.6 million ($202 mil.)

Trivia answer: Lost in Space was the film that finally dethroned Titanic from its number one spot.

Source: Box Office Mojo

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