Neither snow nor rain nor sleet could stay intrepid moviegoers from making their way to theaters over the weekend to see James Cameron's Avatar and plunking down a total of $77.3 million in ticket purchases -- a record for December. The winter storms, bringing a blizzard that shut down roads in the North and torrential rains that flooded streets in the South let up on Sunday allowing more moviegoers than originally expected to visit their local multiplexes. In early estimates, 20th Century Fox had anticipated that the movie would earn $73 million, significantly less than the $77.21-million December record set by Will Smith's I Am Legend in 2007, despite the imposition of premium prices at 3,124 3D screens in 2,032 theaters. But final figures unofficially reported by several websites this morning indicated that the film earned $4.3 million more on Sunday than originally estimated, allowing it to edge out Legend for the December championship by a razor-thing margin. The gross also represented a three-fold increase over the first-weekend take of Cameron's Titanic , which garnered just $28.6 million during its opening in 1997 but went on to become the all-time record holder with $600 million. Meanwhile, Disney's animated musical, The Princess and the Frog, dipped to second place with about $12.2 million, to bring its 10-day total to $44.8 million. Warner Bros.' The Blind Side lost yardage as it fell to third place with $10 million. But the biggest loser of the weekend turned out to be the Hugh Grant-Sarah Jessica Parker romantic comedy Did You Hear About the Morgans? which opened with only $7 million to place fourth.
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Box Office Mojo 1. Avatar , $77.21 million (actual reported figure, the rest are estimates); 2. The Princess and the Frog , $12.22 million; 3. The Blind Side , $10.03 million; 4. Did You Hear About the Morgans? , $7 million; 5. The Twilight Saga New Moon , $4.4 million; 6. Invictus , $4.17 million; 7. Disney's A Christmas Carol , $3.42 million; 8. Up in the Air , $3.1 million; 9. Brothers , $2.63 million; 10. Old Dogs , $2.29 million.