Never underestimate Avatar -- that appeared to be the message the box office sent Monday when the film's actual weekend total turned out to be $31.28 million instead of the $30 million that the studio had forecast. Defying the usual norm, the 20th Century Fox blockbuster performed as well on Sunday as it did on Friday and Saturday. (While the studio had estimated it would earn about $8.5 million on Sunday, it actually took in $10.1 million.) In its seventh weekend at the top of the box office, Avatar dropped just 10 percent from the previous weekend, bringing its domestic total to $595.8 million after 45 days. By contrast, Titanic had just crossed $300 million at the same point in 1998. Although the studio has not yet released comparative figures on actual ticket sales for the two movies to date, the fact that the average ticket price in 1998 was $4.69 and the average ticket price today is $7.46 makes it likely that the two films are running neck and neck in attendance -- even factoring in premium pricing for tickets at 3D theaters. Indeed, Avatar might be running slightly ahead. No other film came close to challenging Avatar this past weekend. The closest competitor was Warner Bros.' Edge of Darkness, starring Mel Gibson, which took in a decent $17.21 million. Disney's When in Rome opened in third place with $12.31 million -- far better than box office forecasters had predicted. Overall ticket sales were about flat with those for the comparable week a year ago.

The top ten films for the weekend, according to final studio figures compiled by Box Office Mojo 1. Avatar , Fox, $31,280,029, 7 Wks., $595,752,416; 2. Edge of Darkness , Warner Bros. $17,214,384, (New); 3. When in Rome, Disney, $12,350,041, (New); 4. Tooth Fairy, Fox, $9,998,109, 2 Wks., $26,104,387; 5. The Book of Eli, Warner Bros. $8,908,286, 3 Wks., $74,511,765; 6. Legion, Sony/Screen Gems, $7,176,375, 2 Wks., $29,022,786; 7. The Lovely Bones, Paramount, $4,726,828, 8 Wks., $38,005,738; 8. Sherlock Holmes , Warner Bros. $4,515,344, 6 Wks., $197,601,522; 9. Alvin and the Chipmunks The Squeakquel , Fox, $3,997,136, 6 Wks., $209,294,997; 10. It's Complicated, Universal, $3,804,215, 6 Wks., $104,111,035.