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`Avatar` grosses $3.5 mil since midnight

By December 18, 2009Newswires

`Avatar` grosses $3.5 mil since midnight
First-weekend haul expected to exceed $80 mil
by Carl DiOrio

"Avatar" is off and running.

James Cameron`s epic sci-fi actioner rang up an estimated $3.5 million in domestic boxoffice from 12:01 a.m. Friday performances.

Toting a running time of more than 2 1/2 hours, "Avatar" unspooled in a mix of 3D and 2D venues amid mostly positive reviews and broad expectations of a first-weekend haul exceeding $80 million. Though nowhere near any records, the solid witching-hour coin will help keep the Fox release on track as it strives to reach that sort of rarefied range.

The current record-holder for midnight openings, Summit Entertainment`s "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," grossed $26.3 million in its opening night last month. But the "Twilight" sequel was a fan-driven movie more apt to register a big midnight sum.

"Avatar" — which until the Summit pic was not based on a book but an original concept and screenplay — was never likely to set a midnight record.

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