Chipmunks Face Holmes & Avatar in Christmas B.O. Battle

As James Cameron’s Avatar prepares for its second weekend in release, analysts are expecting this Christmas holiday period to be a record-breaking moneymaker at the box office. New in theaters this week are Fox’s Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel, Guy Ritchie’s much-buzzed about Sherlock Holmes and (in limited release) Terry Gillian’s visually dazzling The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, which is promoted as Heath Ledger’s final film.

Fox’s family tentpole Alvin and the Chipmunks sequel opens today (Oct. 23) in 3,657 theaters nationwide. Directed by Betty Thomas, the feature finds the high-pitched-voice singing pets in fine form as they meet their female counterparts, the Chipettes in high school. The hipster cast includes Jason Lee, Zachary Levi, Justin Long, Wendie Malick, Christina Applegate, Amy Poehler and David Cross. The film has been lauded for its excellent mix of CG animation and live action, courtesy of the team at Rhythm and Hues. The first live-action feature in 2007 proved to be a surprise hit, bringing in over $360 million worldwide.

Audiences seeking more adult fare are likely to check out Guy Ritchie’s modern spin on Arthur Conan Doyle’s clever sleuth, Sherlock Holmes. Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law star as the Victorian-era detective and his sidekick Dr. Watson as they battle a sinister adversary who has nefarious plans for England. Rachel McAdams plays the love interest, Irene Adler. The Warner Bros. movie showcases some remarkable set pieces and impressive vfx, provided by Double Negative, BlueBolt, and The Visual Effects Company.

Also continuing its run in theaters this week is Disney’s Princess and the Frog which has been faring well with family audiences across the U.S. As of Dec. 21, the acclaimed 2D feature had made over $47.6 million at the box office.