Well, those who thought James Cameron's Avatar would limp out of the gate and throw up low, boring numbers on its opening day should sit down and stick a bar of soap in their mouth because the film lived up to its epic expectations by securing a very respectable $27 million on Friday. That number was good enough to give it second place in terms of films that have opened on a Friday in December, behind Will Smith's I Am Legend, which opened with $30.1 million back in 2007. Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King still holds the all-time record for opening day in December with $34.5 million, though it opened on a Wednesday, not a Friday.

Unfortunately for 20th Century Fox, major storms are hitting the east coast this weekend and that will definitely put a dent in the films final box office take (some are predicting a final total of between $75-85 million). However, extremely positive buzz won't stop folks from hitting the theaters hard over the Christmas break -- a time that saw Cameron's last film, Titanic, gain 40% on its second Friday and 24% in its second weekend after opening with only $28 million right out of the gate. So expect a slow and steady gain from Avatar, especially as the people who saw it in 3D convince the people who saw it in 2D to fork over some more money for the enriched moviegoing experience.

We'll be back later this weekend with the film's final tally. And if you saw the film this weekend, feel free to share your thoughts over here.

[via Variety]