Avatar-movie“Avatar,” the high tech action-adventure film dominated the box office over the Christmas weekend, holding off an opening day surge by Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes.” The James Cameron film pulled in an estimated $75 million, compared with $65.3 million for Holmes.

Including its $145 million gross from overseas, “Avatar” has pulled in $405 million worldwide, so far, during its two-week run, more or less guaranteeing that Fox will make back its investment in the expensive film.

Holmes had the best Christmas Day debut ever with a $24.8 million gross, compared with former top grossing “Marley and Me,” which took in $14.67 million on Christmas Day last year, according to deadlinehollywood.com.

“Avatar,” which was also filmed in 3-D, has been shattering records during its IMAX run, as well. It earned $12.1 million globally for the format. Overall, the film is No 1 in 107 of 108 markets around the globe for all formats, according to the studio.

“Sherlock Holmes” is shaping up to be Ritchie’s best film. Starring Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law, the film is reportedly being helped by good word-of-mouth reviews by movie goers.

Movies are proving to be fairly resilient during the recession, much like they were during the Great Depression. The 1930s were considered a Golden Age for movies, as audiences sought low-cost escapism through films to take their minds off of real world worries.

This was the top grossing weekend of all time for a Friday through Sunday period, pushing the total box office for 2009 to more than $10.3 billion, a new Hollywood record, according to deadlinehollywood and

Movie goers spent more than $278 million on their favorite films, toppin the previous record of $260.8 million for July 18th through 20th, last year, when “The Dark Knight,” “Hancock,” “Mamma Mia,” “Hellboy 2,” and “Journey To The Center Of The Earth,” were playing.

“Alvin & Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” debuted in third place with $50.2 million weekend, followed by “It’s Complicated” at $22.1 million and “Up In The Air,” the George Clooney film now it is fourth week in theaters, which finished fifth with $24.5 million.

“Avatar” unfolds on the planet Pandora 4.4 light years from Earth. The native Na’vi are put in jeopardy by a greedy industrial mining company that lands on the planet to exploit its natural resources.

The plot has environmental and political overtones and could serve as a metaphor for the deforestation of the Amazon and other old growth forests around the world. Or it could be considered cowboys and Indians all over again.

A crippled ex-Marine is chosen to contact the Na’vi through an avatar, or remotely controlled Na’vi robot, something akin to an action figure in a video game. Except the figure, in this case, is three dimensional and real.

It allows him to join the Na’vi as one of their own and he falls for a Na’vi princess, intertwining a love story into the movie.