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'Avatar' on track for a $25-million-plus Friday, $80-million weekend, but snow is wild card [Updated]

December 18, 2009 |  6:44 pm

Avatar1 "Avatar" is on track for a domestic weekend opening of about $80 million, but snowstorms predicted for the northeast and mid-Atlantic tomorrow could put a big crimp in its performance.

According to several people who were closely following ticket sales information during the day Friday, the hugely anticipated 3-D science-fiction flick from director James Cameron was on track to gross $25 million to $30 million for the day. By late afternoon on the West Coast, it had already grossed more than $12 million.

That puts it on pace, the people said, to hit roughly $80 million by Sunday, which is right on track with predictions based on polling going into the weekend.

Snow on the East Coast could be a huge wild card for distributor 20th Century Fox, however. If large enough, the storms could keep people away from movie theaters and depress overall grosses by several million dollars. Light snow, however, could actually bring out more people as other social activities, particularly during the day, become less appealing.

According to one person watching ticket sales, digital 3-D screens, particularly Imax ones, have continued account for most of the ticket sales for "Avatar," as they did in last night's midnight screenings, when they accounted for nearly 80% of the movie's $3.5 million in box office revenue.

Update (Saturday, 11:05 AM): Fox's official estimate for Friday ticket sales is $27 million. Sony, meanwhile, reports that its new romantic comedy "Did You Hear About the Morgans?" collected a weak $2.4 million on Friday.

-- Ben Fritz


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Photo: Stephen Lang and Sam Worthington in "Avatar." Credit: Mark Fellman/20th Century Fox.