Earthly mortal combat has knocked alien-style off its money-making perch.

Sales of the interactive game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 topped the $1 billion mark in just 16 days, a day less than the film Avatar needed to become the fastest-selling "entertainment property" ever, according to the game's maker, Activision.

With millions of ardent fans, The Call of Duty series, which includes eight games so far, has become a blockbuster franchise that rivals the likes of Stars Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and the National Football League, Activision contends.

The previous Call of Duty title, Black Ops, released last year, took just under two months to reach $1 billion in sales.

Modern Warfare 3 came out Nov. 8 and immediately started making news, reportedly selling a record 6.5 million copies in 24 hours, while grossing $400 million in just the United State and Britain.

The game even grabbed the attention of non-gamers nationwide when after a Logan, Utah, wife, feeling neglected by an addicted spouse, put him up for sale on Craigslist.

"One Husband to the Highest Bidder," Alyse Baddley of titled her listing, after hubbie Kyle spent two days hours playing Modern Warfare 3. Soon she was asked for interviews by the likes of CBS News and USA Today.

"I am selling my 22 year old husband," she wrote. "He Enjoys eating and playing video games all day. Easy to maintain, just feed and water every 3-5 hours. You must have Internet and space for gaming. Got tired of waiting so free to good home. If acceptable replacement is offered will trade."

She got lots of responses, but made it clear, she was kidding. Mostly.

Thanks largely to Modern Warfare 3, sales of game software reached $1.74 billion in the key month of November, up 16 percent from the same month last year.

Avatar, James Cameron's 2009 sci-fi flick, wound up grossing nearly $3 billion, including $2.8 billion from movie tickets and another $190 million in DVD sales, according to IMBD.com and the-numbers.com.

For a review of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, go to: www.philly.com/philly/blogs/video_games/133545679.html

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.