Cameron epic takes $13.3 million in fourth Friday

With the holidays over, moviegoing eased for most films on Friday — but not for Fox’s “Avatar.”

At the onset of its fourth weekend, James Cameron’s 3D space epic took the No. 1 spot, generating a record Friday haul of $13.3 million for a film playing in the post New Year’s Day weekend holiday stretch. Last January’s “Gran Torino,” then in its fifth Friday, held the previous high with $9.6 million.

In play at 3,422 theaters, “Avatar” dipped 47% while elevating its domestic haul to $393.8 million.

By Saturday, “Avatar” looks to replace “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” as the highest grossing release of 2009. “Fallen” currently ranks as the ninth-highest grossing film of all-time at the domestic B.O.

Similar to last year with “My Bloody Valentine,” Lionsgate kicked off its New Year, with horror pic “Daybreakers” yesterday. Though the film came in under the $8.2 million posted by “Valentine,” “Daybreakers” did scream the best among the frame’s fresh crop of releases, taking second with $5.8 million off 2,523.

Warner Bros.’ actioner “Sherlock Holmes” placed third in its third Friday with $5.1 million off 3,626, a 66% decline and a running domestic take of $153.7 million.

Fox’s “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” took fourth with $3.5 million from 3,641 for a running B.O. of $165.3 million. Though down 73% in its third Friday, it’s likely that “Alvin” will get some fuel from weekend matinees.

Rounding out fifth and sixth respectively were Universal romantic comedies, frosh opener “Leap Year” and holdover “It’s Complicated.” “Leap” generated $3.3 million from 2,511 while “Complicated” cashed in $3.2 million off 2,955. “Complicated” currently counts $68.6 million in domestic coin.

Weinstein Co. teen comedy “Youth in Revolt” starring Michael Cera bowed in seventh with $2.7 million off 1,873.

Warner Bros.’ Sandra Bullock drama “The Blind Side,” which bowed in late November, continued to thrive in the top 10 with $2.2 million off 2,880, down 51%. Pic’s domestic B.O. stands at $213.7 million.

Paramount’s “Up in the Air” slotted ninth with an estimated $2.1 million off 2,218, down 49% with a domestic B.O. just under $50 million. The George Clooney drama was one of the few award contenders in the post holiday sesh to actually up its theater count with 323 playdates. Award season titles such as “Nine,” “Invictus” and “Precious” shed theaters yesterday, leading to box office drops of 60% or more versus a week ago.

Disney’s “Princess and the Frog” took tenth with an estimated $956,000 on 2,620, down 74% for a running cume in its seventh Friday of $88.9 million.

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