NY Times details the epic run (thus far) by Avatar:
Critics may be at odds about the meaning of Fox’s 3-D science-fiction epic “Avatar,” but its meaning to the box office is clear: It started the new year at No. 1 in domestic ticket sales. With just over $68 million for the weekend, “Avatar,” directed by James Cameron, finished its first 17 days in theaters with $352.1 million, a record for a film in its third week of release, according to Variety.More amazing is that worldwide, Avatar is already the fourth highest grossing film of all time.
Although ticket sales did not break the all-time record, the success of Avatar (and higher ticket prices) propelled the 2009 domestic box office to the all-time record in terms of $$ grossed. Reuters details:
Sales rose more than 8% to a record $10.61 billion, while the number of tickets sold (i.e. admissions) climbed almost 4%.
Paramount's "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" ($402.1 million), Warner Bros.' "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" ($302 million) and 3D phenoms such as Fox's "Avatar" ($352.1 million) and Disney/Pixar's "Up" ($293 million) helped set the new box office mark.
But admissions in the United States and Canada -- at 1.41 billion, compared with 1.36 billion in 2008 -- fell a bit short of beating the all-time record of 1.60 billion set in 2002. The box office year began January 5, with tracking firm Nielsen EDI always starting its calendar on the first business day after New Year's.
Source: Box Office Mojo