avatar bigger posterSATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM: Now that 20th Century Fox’s Avatar is the highest grossing movie of all time (not adjusted for inflation or higher 3D ticket prices), it passed the $2 billion mark in worldwide grosses and remained No. 1 at the weekend box office for the 7th straight week. Today, after just 45 days of release, James Cameron’s sci-fi epic reached $2.039 billion. The pic’s runaway success has answered all its critics, so there’s not much more to say except, Wow! It made $7.5M Friday from 3,074 plays and $14M Saturday for another $30M weekend — an amazing -14% hold despite a declining theater count. That’s a new $594.2M domestic cume. The pic should pass Titanic‘s record of $600.8M this week. 

Here’s the run-down of IMAX’s 5th weekend of Avatar. The giant screen juggernaut generated another $6.0 mil domestically this weekend (-10%) on 179 screens; this represents approx 21% of the pictures overall domestic take. Hollywood.com reports IMAX’s domestic cume for Avatar stands at $97M and will pass $100M this week. Overseas, IMAX generated $4.3M (-3%) on 83 screens. As of Sunday night, the IMAX international cume will be $56M. This puts the global total as of tonight at $153M. The only remaining questions are: Will Avatar make it 8 weeks in a row as #1? And will it win the Best Picture Oscar? Stay tuned.

Way more questions surrounded the Warner Bros-distributed Edge Of Darkness starring Mel Gibson in his big screen comeback in front of the camera after an 8-year hiatus. All week Industry chatter focused on whether the director, unquestionably brilliant behind the camera, can regain the star status he enjoyed before that July 2006 drunken anti-semitic rant damaged his public image. But how this new pic performs may relate more to Mel’s present day status as an aging action star whose appeal now lies mainly with older males. Produced and financed by GK Films, the Martin Campbell-directed Edge Of Darkness on Friday debuted exactly as Warner Bros expected. It received a “B+” CinemaScore and opened to $5.6 million Friday and $7.4M Saturday (+30% — maybe Mel fans who spent Friday night at Shabbos dinner were first in line Saturday) from a wide release of 3,066 theaters. That’s a $17.5M weekend. “We outperformed every vendor who projects via tracking,” the WB exec said. But was that lowered expectation good enough? Well, a younger and scandal-less Gibson opened the R-rated crime story Payback to $21M back in 1999.

Ugh, is all I can say about all those nauseating ads run by Disney for When In Rome. Under the guise of romantic comedy, it’s yet more treacly trash — this time starring former TV stars Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel. The pic debuted to $4.4 million Friday and $5.1M Saturday (+18%) from 2,456 dates to end the weekend with $12M.

Lastly, I’ve received puzzled queries why CBS Films all week didn’t release numbers for its first flop Extraordinary Measures which Friday eked out only an embarrassing $715K (-64%) and Saturday $1.1M (-58%) from 2,549 runs. There’s this weird tradition in Hollywood that independents don’t release daily box office figures and just report weekend and weekly totals. “Supposedly, it goes back to the days when box office was manually gathered so it was only done twice a week,” one distribution expert tells me. “But now that there are electronic means for gathering the data, this practice is silly.” Especially for a division of a Big Media company.

Here’s the Top Ten based on Friday’s and Saturday’s numbers (to be refined):

1. AVATAR (Fox) Week 7 [3,074]
Friday $7.5M, Saturday $14M, Weekend $30M, Est Cume $594.4M
2. EDGE OF DARKNESS (GK/Warner Bros) NEW [3,066]
Friday $5.6M, Saturday $7.4M, Weekend $17.5M
3. WHEN IN ROME (Disney) NEW [2,456]
Friday $4.4M, Saturday $5.1M, Weekend $12M.
4. TOOTH FAIRY (Fox) Week 2 [3,345]
Friday $2.2M (-37%), Saturday $4.7M, Weekend $10M, Est Cume $26.1M
5. BOOK OF ELI (Warner Bros) Week 3 [3,075]
Friday $2.3M, Saturday $3.7M, Weekend $8.0M, Est Cume $73.6M
6. LEGION (Sony) Week 2 [2,476]
Friday $2.0M (-70%), Saturday $2.9M, Weekend $6.6M, Est Cume $28.4M
7. LOVELY BONES (Paramount) Week 8 [2,638]
Friday $1.3M, Saturday $2.0M, Weekend $4.4M, Est Cume $37.7M
8. SHERLOCK HOLMES (Warner Bros) Week 6 [2,250]
Friday $1.1M, Saturday $1.9M, Weekend $4.0M, Est Cume $197.1M
Friday $815K, Saturday $1.9M, Weekend $4M, Est Cume $209.2M
10. IT’S COMPLICATED (Universal) Week 6 [2,096]
Friday $950K, Saturday $1.7M, Weekend $3.5M, Est Cume $103.8M