Avatar Sets December Box Office Record [Updated]

Published 5 years ago by , Updated January 3rd, 2010 at 3:45 pm,

avatar box office numbers Avatar Sets December Box Office Record [Updated]

Update: Avatar just keeps on breaking records and barriers…

The weekend’s nearly over and the estimates for James Cameron’s Avatar are in. We’re looking at a $73 million domestic opening and just over $159 million worldwide bring its town debut gross at over $232 million.

Are these good or bad? Well, fans of the industry should be happy to know that this is the largest opening ever for an original film not based on an existing property (novel, short story) or film (sequel, remake) – so that’s always a win. It beat out Lord of the Rings: Return of the King for best December opening and (Update) might just squeeze past I am Legend. It’s also James Cameron’s biggest debut and I think Terminator 2, Aliens and Titanic were decent hits looking back on things…

That being said, some forecasts expected a domestic gross of mid to high-eighties so it fell short on that front with some blame being placed on the major snowstorms that hit the U.S. East coast over the weekend.

While it’s hard to get a clear-cut idea of what the production budget and marketing expenses are for the the blockbuster 3D epic, some say it may have reached as high as half a billion. Putting it into perspective, though, the film will almost certainly make that back once it has finished its run in theaters and then it’ll be a massive hit on Blu-ray and a big push into 3D home video. Fox made an investment in James Cameron’s project not for just this movie, but for the tech developed to bring it to life for other future projects that have other big-name directors everywhere excited to use it themselves.

And if they decide to go forward with an Avatar sequel, the ground-work, design, development and training has all been done and they’ll be able to go forward at a fraction of the cost.

James Cameron and Fox Studios are confident that positive critical reception and strong word-of-mouth will help carry the film over the next weeks. And if you remember, his last movie Titanic (yes, that was 12 years ago) opened at the same time and actually increased in box office numbers the following week.

That’s not to say that Avatar will improve on its numbers next week like we saw with Titantic, especially with Sherlock Holmes opening Christmas Day, but I do expect relatively strong numbers in the weeks to come.

If you’ve not seen it yet, or are waiting till it’s not as busy in the theaters or until Christmas is over – go see it. 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 any other film this year (and I watched quite a few movies) and if there is one movie I had to recommend people go see more than any other, James Cameron’s Avatar is it.

Avatar stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, Giovanni Ribisi and Laz Alonso. If you have seen it, join Screen Rant’s Avatar spoiler discussion and share your thoughts.

Sources: Box Office Mojo, Collider

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  1. this really puts sherlock holmes at an unfair disadvantage

  2. yeah i’d probably see it tomorrow again ….i’d expect the film to gross 300 plus million here in the States and 800 million something around the world…i think the overall gross will not be bad considering that this is not a sequel ; this is an original film like Star Wars …i already saw twice and it was the greatest experience that i’ve ever been in a cinema….2 thumbs up the best picture of the year

  3. I loved it !

    My boyfriend dragged me to go see it, and of course me being a good girlfriend I agreed. I went into the show with very low expectations. However, I was more than pleasantly surprised, I fall in love with the message and symbolism in the story. It was everything I believe in and right there in front of me on the screen.

    Loved it so much I’m seeing it again but this time with my girlfriends and not my boyfriend.


  4. I’m going to see this, but probably not for a bit. In spite of all the hoopla over this, I’ve still not been able to get excited over it. I’m sure it’s visuals are everything it’s been made out to be, but other critics I usually have a lot in common with, have made reasonable sounding criticism over the plot and characters being 2 dimensional.

    Even when I first heard of the plot synopsis years ago, I was concerned of the temptation to take this story and run with it in only the most expected and rote directions. The trailers and various reports have described it as holding onto the expected plot points like it was a train holding onto the tracks. I’m still one of those old-school folks when it comes to films. If you’re not doing an out-and-out comedy, the foundation has to be a good plot and fully realized characters. I don’t like the expected, I want to be surprised, and I want characters to have at least one or two shades of depth to them. I enjoy great effects only in support of these things. But I only see people really talking about the effects so far. I’ve heard snippets of dialog from the trailers and promo material and was underwhelmed, to say the least.

    As good as any character development this year? As good as Carl Frederickson and Ellie’s relationship in “Up”? That’s the standard I have for the year 2009.

  5. I wanted to see it but the two feet of snow on the ground said no. Gotta wait until next weekend.

  6. I gotta say the relationship between Carl & Ellie wasn’t anything special. It was incredibly simplistic actually.

    The real development was between Carl and the boy scout.

    I dunno, I’m just not that excited by most films these days and Avatar is no exception.

  7. Simplistic? Or perhaps simple, because I felt as though I had gotten to know everything I needed to know about Carl in those few minutes. His emotions, his regrets, and most importantly, his emptiness. He felt like a real person. One could read in the expressions the many ways they complimented each others’ personality.

    Simplistic is unimaginative, juvenile and unaffecting. Simple is merely uncomplicated.


    you cant really take anyones opinions and try to make it your own without actually “SEEING” the movie.

  9. I’ll definitely go see this again some time next week (my sister and her boyfriend are coming over for Christmas and she’s expressed a wish to see it… hey, I’ve no problem seeing it again). That said, England has been hit pretty hard by snow in the past few days as well (and considering we hardly ever get snow, we’re less prepared and have no idea of how to handle it, or so it seems by me having not seen a single gritter go by), so that probably hurt Avatar over here as well.

  10. It’s exciting and engaging while you’re watching it (at least until the last 45 minutes, which kind of dragged), but it’s also really silly, recycles numerous better films (including Cameron’s own), and kind of falls apart logically once you start thinking about it. It will age badly.

    That one scene where he first wakes up in the avatar- if only the rest of the film had that emotional power. However, I fear the Dances with Smurfs jokes are going to stick, and unfortunately they’re somewhat warranted.

    I defended the Titanic script despite the clunky dialogue and the whole stupid unnecessary diamond subplot. But this whole script- lazy deus ex machina after lazy deus ex machina. Next time, let someone else write it, Jim.

  11. Well…. I have seen it now.

  12. I’m probably going to go and see it tomorrow afternoon in IMAX. Get down to the mall early, finish Christmas shopping, and then spend 3 hours in the theater (hopefully) being amazed!

  13. My wife and I ventured into the snow storm and watched Avatar of Saturday evening. Three words, WE LOVED IT!!!! We are going to see it again on Tuesday.

  14. It should post strong numbers through January.

  15. I went to see Avater in 2D with my son (he’s 6) we both loved the film. Now were going this week to see it again in 3D we cant wait.

  16. ya I didnt want to c it then my friend convinced me to and man was I glad I did it was amazing, go c this movie dont listen to anyone just go c it.

  17. Weekend box office actuals released and Avatar actually made 77 million. WHat’s amazing about this is that from Fri thru Sun it only dropped 7% which indicates awesome word of mouth I think this film will have really great legs for the next few weeks and will top out around 300-320million domestically..

    It missed besting I AM Legend’s opening weekend record for December by less than 200 thousand dollars!! Very close call..

  18. @Green,

    The particular cliche’ in mind here is the “noble savage” stock narrative. In it, one technologically superior culture confronts a primitive one in which the protagonist of the former group is immersed in the latter, and over the course of the story becomes converted to the morally ‘superior’ ways of the more primative group, usually ending up by being adopted formally into that group and probably fighting against his group of origin, as they are typically portrayed as morally inferior and motivated entirely by base
    and animalistic characteristics.

    The trouble is, no group and rarely any individual is so morally dichotomous, (as Pete Doctor remarked, no villain gets up in the morning saying “in what ways can I commit evil today?” The best ‘bad guys’ always believe they’re doing good – Look at the Joker from the Dark Knight – he thought he was teaching society a much needed lesson – doing them a favor if you will) Yet this particular narrative almost requires its characters to conform to these flat, 2d traits. The narrative also tends to groan under
    the weight of its own obvious intentions. As a result, I always have had a hard time identifying with such characters in these narratives or enjoying these movies, which is why I am skeptical regarding Avatar. It would be more truly groundbreaking if Avatar ended up finding a way for reasonable heads to come to a mutual arrangement, with a more hopeful outcome for both species, but I gather that’s not the ending Cameron went with.

    On the other hand, I enjoy good action and groundbreaking special effects, but seeing them in this context may only serve as a technical primer in the tools which will be more adeptly used in the service to less predictable and more involving stories by future directors – which I have a less emotional but more curious interest in.

    Such is my quandary.

  19. wait, so it didnt beat i am legend please clarify

  20. Awesome movie! Everybody needs to go see it so we can get a sequel!


  21. You guys can’t really compare Avatar with I Am Legend considering we had 24 inches of snow here on the east coast. No one could really get to the theaters.

  22. It ended up edging out I Am Legend by $0.1 Million!

    If only we had better weather…

    Some of the reports about Sherlock Holmes say it’s amazing so it’ll be interesting to see how they perform Christmas weekend.

  23. It’s doing right around what I expected way to many people were just going overboard with predictions expecting it to beat out new moons weekened.

    Either way regardless of the numbers I finally made it to see Avatar and while I wasn’t expecting much and didn’t by in to all the hype I was still let down. The film really did feel empty to me. To much focus on effects and all the visuals that they seemed to forget that they needed an interesting/compelling story. I couldn’t care about any of the characters and I tried they just seemed so unimportant. The Aliens were basically just indians and were not at all interesting or special.

  24. I AM Legend made 20 million it’s opening weekend over seas in 8 Asian territories…So Avatar killed in global box office in it’s first weekend..