Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Box Office: Where Will Avatar Land?

Avatar continues it's box office climb. I've heard a number of people say that they are going back for a second helping, maybe changing formats (such as upgrading their original viewing to IMAX or 3D). And of course nothing helps a box office more than repeat viewings. Just ask those crazy girls who saw Titanic over & over & over & over.

So somehow James Cameron is intriguing a fan base and is currently #2 movie of the year with a domestic box office of $367 million, behind Transformers 2 ($402 million). But of course, we can expect Avatar to pass up Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen soon...and if it does, Spider-Man's not far behind and so forth.

So it's hard to tell how far the fan love and dollars spent will go, but we can make a good guess that Avatar will hit the domestic top 10 shortly, and where it lands is anyone's guess.

I can't imagine Avatar would pass over The Dark Knight ($533 million) but it's possible, and imagine then if Cameron had the two top domestic pictures...ever! Not to mention two different films, different formats, and not a sequel or series by any stretch of the imagine.

Hum, kind of crazy. Nice work James Cameron on knowing "what people want."


Andrew K. said...

I won't mind if it wins Titanic. That being said, what's so funny about this is that few people are bashing viewers who want to rewatch Avatar, but everyone cries foul when they go retrospective and think about how people rewatched Titanic. So duplicitous. But as you know, I'm a Titanic fan :)

Anonymous said...

That top-grossing list is so meaningless, because it's in actual dollars. You should instead post the list that's adjusted for inflation. Spoiler: Gone with the Wind is number one on that list, not Titanic.

The adjusted-for-inflation list is even more important in the case of Avatar because of the additional cost to see the thing in 3D and IMAX. It's been reported that over $150 million of Avatar's earnings are simply the additional cost for 3D and IMAX.

The point is that it's not true that more people are watching Avatar than some of these other movies. The most tickets sold is more important than how much money the movie made. Because, fyi, tickets are more expensive today than they were a decade, let alone 50 years ago.

Chuck said...

Anonymous has a good point, but certainly it matters that people are willing to spend more (on a per ticket basis) to see Avatar multiple times or that Avatar is and will clean up on other levels of merchandising. It's an impressive media franchise built essentially from nothing (no pre-existing characters or whatever).

To the other point made in the original post about repeat viewings: there seems to be something very "gendered" about it. Fanboys and tech geeks are driving the repeat (in new formats, no less) viewings of Avatar, not "fan girls" who loved the narrative of Titanic (or at least Leo D).

Worldwide, James C will have the two top grossing films of all-time and that matters much more than "domestic" gross, but he will, in all likelihood have at least two of the top three, and that's before DVD sales.

Anonymous said...

Again, it's deceptive to say that he has the top-grossing films of all time. Gone with the Wind and a slew of other films made more money (when you account for inflation) than even Titanic did.

Also, the fact that people paid more to see Avatar in IMAX and 3D does little for me. People had to pay more. It's not like there's some sort of bidding war going on at the box office window where everyone is choosing to pay more to see Avatar. People would have paid three to six bucks more to see Transformers 2, as well -- if that's the price that theaters charged. They wouldn't have opted out of seeing it.

Really, all that can be said is that Avatar is bringing in a ton of money (and a lot of that is due to the up-charges for 3D and IMAX tickets). But Gone with the Wind and many, many other films made more money. But with inflation of ticket prices, Avatar has made more dollar-for-dollar, which is a really stupid way of assessing it.

RC said...

@ anons (both of you) - I think for me the top grossing list is not meaningless for 1 principal reason ---- if it's successful then people will try to find "the formula" and it tells us what we will see more of, in the case of your complaints we will see more IMAX & 3D.

Where I am impressed is that Cameron can find success in two very different products. It speaks to his vision and ability to find an impassioned audience.

Anonymous said...

I was one of those Titanic-crazed girls! Oh, seventh grade...

Can I admit here (without being villified) that I didn't like Avatar all that much? Thought it could have ended 5 times before it did - and isn't the mark of a good storyteller their judicious use of brevity?

But then again, I didn't see it in 3D. Maybe it would have been more enthralling that way.

Anonymous said...

Just read the other comments. I agree with the Anons for the most part: really good point about the historical significance of inflation/number of tickets sold vs. how much was grossed.

HOWEVER, you can't say that people had no choice to pay more. You're right: there wasn't a box office bidding war. But the consumer has the choice to buy or not - they didn't *have* to pay more. The fact that moviegoers were willing to pay more to see the movie in 3D (especially those that saw it again), instead of waiting for it to come out on video, does say a lot about the perceived value of the product.

And agreed, RC - we'll most assuredly see more 3D/IMAX blockbusters in the future.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, we will see more 3D in the future. In fact, I'll go even further than some have and say that the only reason to see Avatar is to see it in 3D. The story is not good (plus, it's been done before (see Pocahontas and Fern Gully)). The dialogue is wretched. But the visuals are cool. I don't understand from an average viewer's perspective how this 3D technology is any different than the 3D we've seen before (I understand that it is different from an uber-nerd perspective). And I don't want to have an explosion of 3D movies. I'd rather 3D be used exclusively for summer movies that I won't see anyway.

@RC -- I overstated my case. The top-grossing list isn't meaningless, but it's incredibly deceptive. Titanic is the top-grossing film of all time in a false sense. That statement implies that more people saw Titanic than any other movie ever -- not true. More people bought tickets to see Gone with the Wind and many other movies than did people to see Titanic. That's a fact. And, of course, the same is true for Avatar (far fewer people have seen Avatar than dozens of movies).

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

And... yep again.