Fox’s Avatar leapfrogged The Dark Knight to secure second place in the all-time domestic pantheon en route to the top thanks to an estimated $36m haul that boosted the tally to $552.8m.

James Cameron’s space opera will do before long what many had thought impossible and overtake his earlier Titanic’s $600.8m mark to secure its place in history.

The film became the biggest international release of all time on Saturday and stands at $1.288bn. The global tally of $1.84bn will pass Titanic’s worldwide mark of $1.842bn on Monday.

Elsewhere Screen Gems unleashed the supernatural action title Legion starring Paul Bettany in second place on $18.2m, while Tooth Fairy, a family vehicle for Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, opened in fourth on a disappointing $14.5m.

CBS Films’ maiden launch, the drama Extraordinary Measures with Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser, opened further down in seventh on an anaemic $7m.

Summit’s thriller The Book Of Elislipped one place to third on $17m for $62m, and Paramount-DreamWorks’ The Lovely Bones fell two to fifth and stands at $31.6m.

Fox’s Alvin And The Chipmunks sequel crossed $200m in its fifth weekend and ranks eighth on $204.2m. Warner Bros’ Sherlock Holmes in sixth place is also approaching the mark and stands at $191.6m after five.

Fox Searchlight’s Crazy Heart jumped three places to 16th following Jeff Bridges’ SAG and Golden Globes best actor awards and added $1.4m from 93 theatres for $3.9m. Samuel Goldwyn Films released To Save A Life in 15th place on $1.5m

Next weekend’s wide releases include the thriller Edge Of Darkness from Warner Bros, starring Mel Gibson in his first lead role since Signs in 2002; and the romantic comedy When In Rome from Buena Vista with Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel.

Estimated Top 10 North America Jan 22-24 2010

Film (Dist) / Est wkd gross / Est total to date

1 (1) Avatar (Fox) Fox Int’l $36m $552.8m

2 (-) Legion (Screen Gems) $18.2m –

3 (2) The Book Of Eli (Summit) Summit Int’l/SPRI $17m $62m

4 (-) Tooth Fairy (Fox) Fox Int’l $14.5m –

5 (3) The Lovely Bones (Paramount-DreamWorks) PPI $8.8m $31.6m

6 (5) Sherlock Holmes (Warner Bros) WBPI $7.1m $191.6m

7 (-) Extraordinary Measures (CBS Films) SPRI $7m –

8 (4) Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (Fox) Fox Int’l $6.5m $204.2m

9 (7) It’s Complicated (Universal) UPI $6.2m $98.7m

10 (6) The Spy Next Door (Lionsgate) Lionsgate $4.8m $18.7m