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"Dear John" breaks "Avatar" No. 1 streak at box office

A sci-fi love story has given way to an earthbound romance at the box office, livening up typically slow times at theaters over Super Bowl weekend.

Released by Sony's Screen Gems banner, "Dear John" debuted as the No. 1 movie with $32.4 million, knocking off "Avatar" after seven weekends in first place, according to studio estimates yesterday.

"It is very cool to know that it was our movie that audiences just totally embraced and made No. 1 for the weekend," said Rory Bruer, head of distribution at Sony. As for runaway blockbuster "Avatar," he quipped, "I think they're going to be fine in the long run."

While "Avatar" features a human-alien romance light-years away, "Dear John" centers on a long-distance love story between a soldier, played by Channing Tatum, and his sweetheart, played by Amanda Seyfried, back home.

"Avatar" slipped to No. 2 with $23.6 million, raising its domestic total to $630.1 million. Directed by James Cameron, 20th Century Fox's "Avatar" surpassed his own "Titanic," which had held the domestic revenue record at $600.8 million.

With a record $2.2 billion worldwide, "Avatar" also has soared past the $1.8 billion "Titanic" took in globally.

Factoring in today's higher admission prices, however, "Avatar" has sold fewer tickets than "Titanic." "Avatar" had been No. 1 domestically longer than any movie since 1997's "Titanic," which held on at first place for 15 weekends.

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