Fox pic overtakes James Cameron's 'Titanic' for no. 1 spot

Twentieth Century Fox’s “Avatar” achieved what seemed inevitable over the Jan. 22-24 weekend, earning $108.3 million to become the highest grossing film ever at the international box office with a cume of $1.292 billion.The weekend tally was enough to push James Cameron’s 3D opus past previous record holder “Titanic’s” $1.242 billion benchmark set in 1998.

On a global scale, “Avatar’s” $1.3 billion foreign cume as of Jan. 25, combined with a $554.9 million domestic intake, sunk Cameron’s “Titanic” to give the director the top two highest grossing films ever in worldwide sales. Total global receipts for “Avatar” have reached $1.859 billion, of which 3D sales account for 72%, surpassing “Titanic’s” $1.843 billion.

Pic’s record-breaking performance helped “Avatar” maintain its top spot over the weekend from 11,925 screens in 111 markets doing big business in nearly every holdover territory, including the frame’s top three territories Italy, China and France, respectively.

Coming down from last weekend’s record-breaking opening in Italy, pic fell just 8% with $13.3 million at 940 screens, followed by a 31% drop in China with $12.4 million at 1,263. Despite losing 1,500 2D screens in that territory, “Avatar” became China’s highest grossing film ever in its third frame with a cume of $103.1 million.

In its sixth frame, “Avatar” continued to dominate screens in both France and Germany.

Weekend figures in France topped $9.9 million at 899 screens, totaling $124 million, while German auds shelled out $8.9 million at 765 for $95.8 million.

“Avatar” topped the Japanese B.O. for its fifth consecutive week with a 2% uptick, earning $5.7 million at 674 screens and pushing the overall gross to $77.7 million.

But Hayao Miyazaki toon “Spirited Away” still holds the Japanese record, topping the B.O. for 11 straight weeks, making it Japan’s all-time highest grosser with $338 million.

Down just 8% in Spain compared to last week’s 11% drop, “Avatar” topped the market with $5.7 million at 578 screens for a total $76 million. Spanish exhibs predict the pic will top out around the $100 million mark, which “Avatar” should have no problems passing markets like the U.K. and Russia in the coming weeks.

Warner Bros.’ “Sherlock Holmes,” starring Robert Downey and Jude Law, held its ground over the weekend behind “Avatar” to gross $17.2 million at 4,758 screens in 58 territories. International receipts totaled $197 million.

Notable holdovers for the Brit pic include Spain, where in its soph sesh slipped 44% with $3 million, and the U.K., whose figures totaled $2.7 million.

Also performing well in repeat frames was Fox’s toon reboot “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.” Toons typically do well overseas, but given “Alvin’s” origins Stateside, pic’s total gross of $175.2 million speaks to the popularity of the genre among foreign auds.

Pic grossed $11.6 million at 4,776 screens in 60 territories with highlights, including the U.K., Brazil and Germany. In the U.K., toon slipped 6% from last weekend, earning $2.3 million, while it saw a 33% decline among Brazilian auds, grossing $1.6 million in its third frame.

Opening in 17 territories, Paramount’s George Clooney-starrer “Up in the Air” earned $11 million, lifting its international cume to $19.5 million. Pic bowed well in Spain and Italy with $1.8 million and $1.7 million, respectively.

After a $5.7 million intake last weekend in the U.K., pic was down only 4% to gross $2 million, while it earned $1.1 million in Australia for a 32% decline.

Meryl Streep topliner “It’s Complicated” played well in Germany and Austria, where it grossed an overall $10.5 million at 2,900 screens in 32 territories. Universal’s pic has cumed a total $50.5 million and opens in six territories next weekend, including Mexico.

Local Russian comedy “Nasha Russia” opened in that territory to $12.6 million at 690 screens, an impressive figure given “Avatar’s” recent domination overseas. Comparatively, “Avatar” scored only $4.7 million at 559 screens in Russia.

French auds continued to respond to Clint Eastwood’s “Invictus,” which cumed $12 million in its second frame from 1162. Local biopic “Gainsbourg, Vie Heroique,” which has garnered lots of publicity, bowed with $3.5 million on 855 for Universal Pictures International.

Emilio Mayorga in Barcelona, Mark Shilling in Tokyo, Ed Meza in Berlin, Lauren Seligman in Paris and Nick Vivarelli in Rome contributed to this report.

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