"Avatar" led the way last weekend with $75 million in ticket sales, just ahead of "Sherlock Holmes" while "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel" and "It's Complicated" also did well at the box office.
The total weekend take was estimated at $278 million, substantially more than the $253 million of the previous record, set in July 2008 when "The Dark Knight" was released.
For the year, the U.S. movie industry is looking at a record $10.6 billion -- nearly $1 billion more than the previous mark of $9.68 billion take in 2007. Last year movie ticket sales totaled $9.63 billion.
Part of the reason for the record is movie tickets are 28 percent more expensive than in 2008, costing an average of about $7.50. Still, with "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," "The Twilight saga: New Moon" and "Avatar" packing houses, analysts said 2009 would see sales total 1.4 billion tickets. The record year for tickets sales is 2002, when 1.6 billion were sold.