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‘Alvin’ squeaks by ‘Avatar’ at box office

Fox's 'Chipmunks' opens to $18.7 million

Twentieth Century Fox’s “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” opened to $18.7 million on Wednesday from 3,656 theaters, securing the best gross for a title debuting on the Wednesday of Christmas week at the domestic B.O.

One Fox insider say the studio didn’t expect “Squeakquel” to outdo Fox’s “Avatar,” which still did boffo busines, grossing $16.4 million from 3,452 runs for a domestic cume of $125.9 million.

“It was a great number for ‘Alvin,’ and it exceeded our expectations,” Fox senior VP of domestic distribution Bert Livingston said.

Original “Alvin and the Chipmunks” posted an opening day gross of $13.3 million from 3,475 runs when opening Dec. 14, 2007, a Friday. That film cumed $279.2 million domestically.

Previous best opening for the Wednesday before Christmas appears to be “Meet the Fockers” at $12.1 million, according to Rentrak.

Between “Avatar” and now “Squeakquel,” Fox is ending the year on a high note. “Squeakquel” has the advantage of being the only new family entry at the holiday B.O.

James Cameron’s “Avatar” is displaying extraordinary B.O. strength, grossing at least $16 million every day this week. On Wednesday, it was one of the titles that was up from Tuesday at 2%

“Avatar” gets competition on Christmas Day from Warner Bros.’ Robert Downey Jr.-Jude Law topliner “Sherlock Holmes.”

Theater traffic is expected to slow dramatically today, being Christmas Eve. “Alvin” could be heavily impacted.