Avatar Is An Epic Success

Published 4 years ago by , Updated February 11th, 2010 at 5:01 am,

avatar box office numbers Avatar Is An Epic Success

Back in the day (read: three weeks ago), some people said James Cameron’s weird blue alien movie with its gimmicky 3D effects would flop at the box office. Heck, they had spent so much making this movie and so much marketing it last minute, that there’s no way it would succeed, right? It would never come close to the numbers that Twilight Saga’s New Moon made in November; It wouldn’t even compete against Sherlock Holmes.

Those people were all wrong.

After 17 days, including a December opening weekend record, a record for the largest opening of an original film not based on an existing property (novel, short story) or film (sequel, remake), the biggest second weekend of all time, the biggest third weekend of all time, among many other records, Avatar hit it big amongst critics, fans and the box office; And it’s only the beginning.

Did I mention that it was just 17 days? In 17 days, Avatar has helped James Cameron become the only director ever to have two films cross the $1 billion dollar mark.

Avatar is currently sitting as the 4th highest grossing film of all time, surpassing last year’s The Dark Knight over the weekend. Ahead of it, Cameron’s other money maker in Titanic stands high above the competition in the #1 slot. Between Cameron’s two movies sits Lord of the Rings: Return of the King at #2 and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest at #3 (those are both sequels by the way).

Here’s Box Office Mojo’s chart of the top 5 movies of all time (worldwide):

1. Titanic $1,842,879,955
2. Return of the King $1,119,110,941
3. Dead Man’s Chest $1,066,179,725
4. Avatar $1,018,811,000
5. The Dark Knight $1,001,921,825

Again, this is just after 17 days. Avatar will easily surpass ROTK and the disappointing Pirates of the Caribbean sequel for the #2 slot but it’ll be interesting to see if it keeps it up to pass Cameron’s other movie. If that’s not enough, Avatar will also no doubt be the biggest Blu-ray release to date when it comes to home video. Fox was right in investing in Cameron’s return to cinema and giving him all the time he needed to do it right.

It may be impossible to fairly compare box office earnings with different amounts of theaters screens playing the movie, ticket prices, etc., but that does not take away from the success Avatar has earned thus far.

On that note, we should point out the obvious fact that 3D and IMAX tickets cost more, which are helping the box office take, but there aren’t nearly as many 3D capable screens out there compared to standard format yet. There’s that and the fact that no other 3D film has earned nearly this much. The movie itself is what has kept it consistently making big numbers day after day and three weekends straight. Not many movies have ever had such strong word-of-mouth as this and at my workplace, folks who don’t usually see many films in theaters have made the effort to see this and have come back with praise (and that’s of the 2D version).

I believed Avatar would do well (and debated before, during and after the film’s release about it), but we never expected numbers such as this. If you’re still wondering whether or not to see Avatar (or see it again), here’s a snippet from my last discussion of Avatar‘s record-breaking numbers after its opening weekend:

Avatar is one of the greatest theater-viewing experiences I’ve ever had and something that I needed to see twice to fully appreciate. While some say the story is bland or character development isn’t as strong as could be, don’t buy into that. There’s as good a story and characters here than most films of 2009 (and I watched quite a few movies) and if there is one movie I had to recommend people go see on the big screen more than any other, James Cameron’s Avatar is it. It’s an experience and an event that must be enjoyed on the big screen.

There is no doubt more of a push on those discussions of an Avatar sequel now and I’m excited to see what Cameron will bring next. I expect he’ll take a different direction entirely as we saw with Aliens and Terminator 2 filmed compared to their predecessors, but that won’t be happening just yet; James Cameron has other projects on his plate first.

What do you think of Avatar’s success, and just how far will it go?

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TAGS: avatar, the dark knight, titanic

130 Comments

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  1. I agree Vic, escapism is a prime reason for a majority of audiences to go to the theater these days.

    Unfortunately, the bar for what it takes for most people to “escape” these days is considerably lower than what it used to be. Think about it. During the great depression, movies still boomed because people still sought an escape. But the movies they got were “Gone With The Wind” and “Snow White” and even “The Wizard of Oz”.

    As was previously noted, Avatar still sits far in the back row of earnings in adjusted dollars as Gone With the Wind still reigns as champion. And what further brings Avatar’s numbers into doubt is the elevated ticket prices many are paying to see it in 3D. It’s times like these I wish Hollywood just counted butts in seats, but since that doesn’t console investors of stability, dollar signs in current dollars will probably always continue to be the standard measure.

    However, I wish someone simply counted and published the number of tickets sold as an alternative (i.e. more reliable) measure of popularity.

  2. i think its the best movie i have seen in recent days ….i liked the story quite different from other movies…graphics were osm i wish i could c it on 3D…really osm

  3. The Princess and the Frog is a film for children! Joe.

  4. @790

    Actually its a FAMILY film, not just for kids.

  5. It’s sad to see that modern audiences can’t see what a real movie is. This movie is all flash and nothing more. Why dosent a movie like the road, no coutntry for old men have the same respect as this one. It’s just one giant cgi show. Nothing more I didn’t see all this amazing tech what’s the point of all the tech when all you see is voice overs with really fancy cartoons. I am sorry I gave James Cameron my money at this point I feel that watchmen was a better movie then this. And I was really disapointed in that movie. This movie is like the old saying you dress a pig up but it’s still a pig. This goes to show me more and more that human kind is doomed when people think this is the next coming of Christ.

  6. I LOVED this film. After my initial skepticism of the 3D format, I found myself completely won over by the world that James Cameron created.

    Sure, it smacked of plagiarism in parts…anyone ever seen ‘Fern Gully’?- A kid’s animated film from the 1980s? Spooky similarities! However, Cameron manages to combine epic storytelling with special effects, so that the the story is what matters, and the 3D enhances it.

    If this is 3D…give me more!

  7. @DrSamBeckett

    I am so glad that someone could look back at the CGI glam of Avatar . Yes, I noticed that the actors were pretty bland and boring especially the lead Sam. The villian was awesome adn I hated the part about how people died ramdomly and making us not care too much about it, when this film was meant to be emotional and make us feel bad for their deaths
    - but it didn’t.

  8. It’s just a movie folks. You liked it, fine; you didn’t like it, fine. I’m going to agree with Vic that all this smells of all the discussions about Transformers 2.

  9. I absolutely loved Avatar. I cannot think of anything I disliked about the film. It’s one of my all time favorites.

  10. If you want to see this movie in Imax 3d get there early. I went to two multiplexes, one in Missouri and one in Florida when visiting there and both times the Imax 3d version was sold out even though we got there 45 minutes to an hour early. Of course the 2d version was not sold out. Had to wait for the next Imax 3d showing. The 2nd time I didn’t think it would be sold out because it was on a week night.

  11. Avatar is harder than it looks so appreciate it. And please spell “doesn’t” correctly.

  12. Attempted to get a 2nd viewing at my local, instead of the Imax. Left my house at about 6:30 for the 7:30 showing (plenty of time). I got into the cinema and there was a que of people at the ticket booth so I thought, i’ll just go up stairs to the counter and buy my ticket there! Upstairs, there was a massive que of people stretching through the whole lobby, I asked the assistant and she said Avatar’s sold out. I thought kool sunday will be alright. And the same thing happened. Both Saturday and Sunday showings were sold out…. I underestimated the pull of this film and word of mouth! Avatar was released on December 16th (UK) while it probably did very well, then most people were caught up during the christmas rush! Now that’s over and it’s the new year, it’s freezing and people are low on money, with not a lot of things to do. Going to the movies is nice treat, for the kids and a bit of escapism for others! I can see this movie going strong for another week at least….

  13. WENT TO SEE AVATAR IN 3D YESTERDAY. VERY GOOD MOVIE. IN THE SCENE NEAR THE END WHERE THE GIRL GOES TO SAVE THE JAKE THAT IS IN THE HUMAN IN THE MODULE, SHE IS THE SAME SIZE AS HIM. I THOUGHT SHE WOULD HAVE BEEN THE BIGGER SIZE. DALE

  14. WENT TO SEE AVATAR IN 3D YESTERDAY. VERY GOOD MOVIE. IN THE SCENE NEAR THE END WHERE THE GIRL GOES TO SAVE THE JAKE THAT IS IN THE HUMAN IN THE MODULE, SHE IS THE SAME SIZE AS HIM. I THOUGHT SHE WOULD HAVE BEEN THE BIGGER SIZE. DALE