'Avatar' wins second week in a row (The Hollywood Reporter)

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Reigning champ " Avatar" easily beat newcomer " Sherlock Holmes" at the Christmas holiday box office in North America after a closely followed duel that saw both films post sizzling sales, according to studio estimates issued on Sunday.

"Avatar," a costly 3-D extravaganza from "Titanic" director James Cameron, earned $75 million during the three days beginning December 25, said distributor 20th Century Fox.

The film lost just three percent of its opening-weekend audience as its 10-day total soared to $212.3 million across the United States and Canada.

British director Guy Ritchie's "Sherlock Holmes" followed with $65.4 million, two days after setting a Christmas Day opening record of $24.9 million. The film,starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, reinvents the ascetic Victorian sleuth as a dashing superhero, was released by Warner Bros. Pictures. Industry observers had predicted an opening of at least $50 million.

New at No. 3 was Fox's "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel," with $50.2 million for the three days, far exceeding the studio's forecasts. Since opening on Wednesday, the follow-up to the worldwide 2007 hit has earned $77.1 million. The studio had been hoping for a three-day haul of $35 million and a five-day sum of about $50 million.

"It's Complicated," a new Universal Pictures comedy starring Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, was a distant No. 4 with a solid $22.1 million.

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