Sony's Dear John outpaced its rising expectations to open in a comfortable first place with $30.47 million. Heading into the weekend it appeared as though it would be a tight race between Dear John and Fox's Avatar, but Dear John stopped Avatar's streak of consecutive weekends at number one with relative ease. In addition to topping Avatar this weekend, the adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name set a new opening weekend record for Screen Gems by topping the $30.05 million debut of 2005's The Exorcism of Emily Rose.
With Dear John coming in nearly $2 million below yesterday's studio estimate, the film fell just short of the $31.12 million Super Bowl weekend record held by 2008's Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: The Best of Both Worlds. Dear John still scored the second largest Super Bowl weekend debut ever, as well as the second largest debut of 2010 so far (behind only Warner's The Book of Eli). Historically Super Bowl weekend has been a tough weekend at the box office, but that trend has seen a reversal over the past three years with the likes of Hannah Montana, Taken and now Dear John.
Though it saw its streak of consecutive weekends at number one stopped at seven, Avatar still held up well this weekend, especially when taking into account the competition from the Super Bowl. James Cameron's 3D phenomenon finished in second with $22.85 million, which was down 27 percent from the previous weekend. Avatar further padded its all-time unadjusted domestic record this weekend as it now boasts a 52-day take of $629.34 million.
Lionsgate's From Paris with Love opened in third with a disappointing $8.16 million. The R-rated action thriller starring John Travolta opened below expectations, which was especially discouraging given that Warner's Edge of Darkness hasn't exactly been setting the marketplace on fire either. Lionsgate had a great start in 2009, but isn't experiencing the same type of start to 2010. Daybreakers opened in line with expectations, but fell off quickly, while The Spy Next Door and From Paris with Love have failed to excite moviegoers.
After a so-so debut last weekend, Edge of Darkness fell off the map this weekend with a second weekend slide of 60 percent. The comeback film for Mel Gibson finished in fourth for the weekend with $6.86 million. Edge of Darkness was clearly hurt more than most other films by the Super Bowl and is now on pace to fall short of the $50 million mark domestically, especially with high-profile releases such as Universal's The Wolfman and Paramount's Shutter Island set to debut in the coming weeks.
Fox's The Tooth Fairy rounded out the weekend's top five with $6.63 million. The family comedy starring Dwayne Johnson was down a respectable 34 percent. The Tooth Fairy has held up well each of the past two weekends and now boasts a 17-day total of $34.46 million. However, the film could take a significant hit next weekend from fellow Fox release Percy Jackson & the Olympians.
After Avatar, Fox Searchlight's Crazy Heart led the way among releases that received major Academy Award nominations last Tuesday. Crazy Heart grossed $3.57 million, which was up 54 percent from last weekend thanks in part to expanding into an additional 580 locations. Best Picture nominees The Blind Side and Up in the Air grossed $2.50 million and $2.28 million respectively in wide release, while fellow Best Picture nominees An Education and Precious grossed $0.76 million and $0.47 million in limited release.