***We're looking for contributors***

'Avatar' Gross: No. 3 All-Time Domestic vs. the Inflation Factor

Avatar Sigourney Weaver'Avatar' with Sigourney Weaver: Worldwide box office milestone reached.

'Avatar' passes $2 billion milestone worldwide, to surpass 'Titanic' in U.S. & Canada – but not in ticket sales

Jan. 31, '10, update: Avatar's estimated weekend (Jan. 29-31) gross was at the higher end of expectations: $30 million at 3,074 locations. That represents a small 14 percent drop from last week. Average per theater: $9,759.

After 45 days out, Avatar's domestic total stands at $594.4 million. If weekend estimates are correct, James Cameron's sci-fi adventure will surpass Cameron's romantic melodrama/disaster movie Titanic (not accounting for inflation or higher 3D/IMAX ticket prices) either Tuesday or Wednesday next week. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, Titanic grossed $600.4 million back in 1998.

Also this weekend, Avatar broke the $2 billion mark at the worldwide box office; its cume currently stands at $2.039 billion. The weak dollar and 3D/IMAX-boosted ticket prices have been a great help to Avatar's international revenues.

'Avatar' awards, cast

A 20th Century Fox release, Avatar has received nominations from the French Academy, the British Academy, the American Cinema Editors, the American Society of Cinematographers, the Writers Guild, the Art Directors Guild, and the Costume Designers Guild.

Last Sunday, James Cameron's mega-budget environmentally conscious sci-fi adventure lost the 2010 Producers Guild Award to Kathryn Bigelow's low-budget Iraq War drama The Hurt Locker. And last night, Cameron lost the 2010 Directors Guild Award to former wife Bigelow, the first woman to ever win the DGA prize for a narrative feature.

Written and directed by Cameron, the Best Motion Picture Drama and Best Director Golden Globe winner stars:

Sam Worthington. Zoe Saldana. Stephen Lang. Laz Alonso. Joel David Moore. Michelle Rodriguez. Giovanni Ribisi. CCH Pounder. Wes Studi.

Three-time Oscar nominee Sigourney Weaver (lead for Aliens, 1986, and Gorillas in the Mist, 1988; supporting for Working Girl, 1988).

Mel Gibson Edge of DarknessMel Gibson in 'Edge of Darkness': Costly comeback vehicle flops.

Mel Gibson comeback fizzles

Mel Gibson's $80 million-budgeted comeback vehicle Edge of Darkness trailed holdover Avatar at a distant second, earning a disappointing $17.1 million as found at boxofficemojo.com. Some had been predicting higher figures – in the $20-22 million range.

At 3,066 locations, Edge of Darkness averaged a mid-level $5,584 per screen. For comparison's sake, Avatar's average on its seventh weekend – even considering 3D/IMAX premium surcharges – was a much higher $9,759.

An adaptation of Troy Kennedy-Martin's 1985 BBC miniseries about a detective tracking down those responsible for his daughter's brutal murder, Edge of Darkness is Gibson's first film since M. Night Shyamalan's 2002 horror/sci-fier Signs.

Bob Peck, Joe Don Baker, and Joanne Whalley toplined the British, made-for-TV Edge of Darkness.

'When in Rome' grosses not as disastrous as reviews

At no. 3, new entry When in Rome brought in $12 million at 2,456 locations; although anything but a hit, that's a – relatively speaking – acceptable figure considering the romantic comedy's disastrous reviews: a downright rotten 15 percent approval rating and 3.4/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics. The per-theater average was $4,912.

Directed by Mark Steven Johnson, When in Rome stars Kristen Bell, Josh Duhamel, Anjelica Huston, Danny DeVito, Will Arnett, Jon Heder, Dax Shepard, Lee Pace, and Judith Malina.

The no. 4 movie was Tooth Fairy, starring Dwayne Johnson and veteran Julie Andrews (Star!, Victor Victoria), which lifted its cumulative gross to $26.1 million after adding $10 million.

Next in line, the Denzel Washington post-apocalyptic thriller The Book of Eli brought in $8.7 million for a cume of $74.3 million after three weeks.

'Legion' disbanding fast, 'It's Complicated' having easy time among Top Ten

Starring Lucas Black, Paul Bettany, and Dennis Quaid, Legion slipped to no. 6 with $6.8 million. Total to date: $28.6 million.

Following in seventh place with $4.7 million was Peter Jackson's big-screen adaptation of The Lovely Bones, which reached a cume of $38 million. Saoirse Ronan, Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Stanley Tucci, and Best Actress Oscar winner Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking, 1995) star.

Guy Ritchie's blockbuster Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, and Rachel McAdams, pulled in $4.5 million at no. 8, bringing its total gross to $197.5 million. In ninth place, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel collected $4 million for a total of $209.2 million.

Rounding out the Top Ten was Nancy Meyers' comedy It's Complicated with $3.7 million for a domestic total of $104 million In the cast: two-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep (supporting for Kramer vs. Kramer, 1979; lead for Sophie's Choice, 1982), Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, Lake Bell, John Krasinski, and Mary Kay Place.

Gone from the Top Ten:

  • The Blind Side.
    Dir.: John Lee Hancock.
    Cast: Sandra Bullock. Tim McGraw.
  • Extraordinary Measures.
    Dir.: Tom Vaughan.
    Cast: Harrison Ford. Brendan Fraser. Keri Russell.
  • Up in the Air.
    Dir.: Jason Reitman.
    Cast: George Clooney. Vera Farmiga. Anna Kendrick.
  • Leap Year.
    Dir.: Anand Tucker.
    Cast: Amy Adams. Matthew Goode. Adam Scott. John Lithgow.
  • The Spy Next Door.
    Dir.: Brian Levant.
    Cast: Jackie Chan. Amber Valletta. Madeline Carroll.
When in Rome Josh Duhamel Kristen Bell dismal reviews'When in Rome' with Josh Duhamel and Kristen Bell: Weekend box office not nearly as dismal as reviews.

'Avatar' easily beats Mel Gibson, Kristen Bell-Josh Duhamel romantic comedy

Jan. 30 update: Sherlock Holmes, The Book of Eli, and even Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel managed to overtake Avatar on their opening day, but on Friday, Jan. 29, James Cameron's sci-fier easily beat out both Mel Gibson's comeback vehicle Edge of Darkness and the Josh Duhamel-Kristen Bell romantic comedy When in Rome.

Avatar collected an estimated $7.3 million, a relatively small 19 percent drop from the previous Friday.

At 3,066 locations, Edge of Darkness was the no. 2 movie with $5.6 million and a $1,844 per screen average. For comparison's sake, Avatar's average on day 43 – 3D/IMAX premium surcharges should be taken into account here – was $2,383.

When in Rome was the no. 3 movie with $4.4 million and a not at all bad – for such a poorly received comedy – $1,792 per-theater average.

At no. 4 The Book of Eli grossed $2.4 million, followed by Tooth Fairy with $2.28 million.

'Avatar' lifted by international market

Avatar is poised to cross the $2 billion mark at the global box office sometime either on Sunday or early next week. James Cameron's previous mega-blockbuster, Titanic, toplining Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, and veteran Gloria Stuart (The Old Dark House, The Invisible Man), scored $1.84 billion back in 1998.

Avatar, for its part, has earned a staggering $1.924 billion to date; more than 70 percent of that amount came from overseas. Top markets include China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Australia, Spain, Germany, Japan, Brazil, Italy, and Mexico.

About 80 percent of the film's domestic (U.S. and Canada) take and more than two-thirds of the international revenues were generated at 3D/IMAX screenings, which charge higher ticket prices. Also, the dollar's current weakness helps to “inflate” earnings coming from abroad.

For these reasons, comparisons to Titanic are at best tricky.

'Avatar' no. 2 movie at domestic box office, no. 1 internationally – not adjusted for inflation

Jan. 29 update: James Cameron's Avatar has grossed $546.4 million after 42 days in release. It's now the no. 2 movie on the domestic box office chart (not taking inflation or higher 3D/IMAX ticket prices into account). Avatar will likely remain the no. 2 movie until next weekend, right behind Cameron's own Titanic, which earned $600.7 million back in 1998.

This weekend, the 3D sci-fier is expected to keep its place at the top of the domestic box office for the seventh straight weekend, with grosses anywhere between $25-30 million. New entries Edge of Darkness, starring a gun-toting, tired-looking Mel Gibson, and the widely panned romantic comedy When in Rome, with Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel, will likely land in second and third place, respectively.

Worldwide (not adjusted for inflation / 3D surcharges / dollar exchange variations), Avatar tops the chart, with $1.9 billion, having passed Titanic a few days ago. The Leonardo DiCaprio-Kate Winslet hit – the no. 1 domestic box office leader for 15 straight weekends back in 1998 – cumed at $1.84 billion.

'It's Complicated' passes $100 million milestone, 'To Save a Life' plummets

Jan. 29 update: On Thursday, Jan. 28, Nancy Meyers' romantic comedy It's Complicated starring Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, and Steve Martin, added $483,000. Total: $100.3 million after 35 days.

Also in the cast: Lake Bell, John Krasinski, and Mary Kay Place.

Curiously, following a brief spike on Wednesday, Brian Baugh's To Save a Life, starring Randy Wayne, fell 45 percent to a mere 68,000.

'To Save a Life' spikes

Thursday, Jan. 28: Going down the Wednesday box office chart, below is a quartet of potential Oscar 2010 contenders:

  • Crazy Heart: $117,000 on Wednesday. Total: $4.2 million.
    Dir.: Scott Cooper.
    Cast: Jeff Bridges. Maggie Gyllenhaal.
  • A Single Man: $64,000. Total: $4.4 million.
    Dir.: Tom Ford.
    Cast: Colin Firth. Julianne Moore. Matthew Goode. Nicholas Hoult.
  • Nine: $34,000. Total: $18.9 million.
    Dir.: Rob Marshall.
    Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis. Marion Cotillard. Nicole Kidman. Penélope Cruz. Kate Hudson. Fergie. Veteran Best Actress Academy Award winner Sophia Loren (Two Women, 1961).
  • Precious: $23,000. Total: $45.2 million.
    Dir.: Lee Daniels.
    Cast: Gabourey Sidibe. Mo'Nique. Paula Patton. Mariah Carey. Lenny Kravitz.

Also of note, Brian Baugh's To Save a Life, a morality tale starring Randy Wayne as an all-star college athlete who changes his ways following the death of a friend, soared 103 percent, earning 124,000 on Wednesday for a $1.76 million cume after six days.

To Save a Life averaged a middling $282 per screen. The highest average by far on Wed. was Avatar's: $999 per screen.

And finally, the Kristen Stewart-Robert Pattinson-Taylor Lautner romantic fantasy The Twilight Saga: New Moon added another $51,000. Total to date: $293.3 million. Director: Chris Weitz.

 

Avatar image: Mark Fellman / 20th Century Fox.

Edge of Darkness image: Warner Bros.

When in Rome image: Philippe Antonello / Touchstone Pictures.

Jan. 29

Stephen Lang in Avatar
Stephen Lang as a boorish villain in Avatar (ILM / 20th Century Fox)

Avatar keeps forging ahead. James Cameron's sci-fi epic has grossed $564.4 million after 42 days out. The #2 movie at the domestic box office (not taking inflation or higher 3D/IMAX ticket prices into account), currently about $55 million behind Cameron's own Titanic, will almost surely be #1 after next weekend's revenues are tallied.

Worldwide (not adjusted for inflation/dollar exchange variations), Avatar has already topped the box office chart, with $1.9 billion. It passed Titanic a few days ago – the Leonardo DiCaprio-Kate Winslet hit grossed $1.843 billion – at least in part thanks to the US dollar's weakness in most key film markets. Also helping was China's and Russia's opening up to Hollywood fare in the last decade.

As I've said before, the picture looks quite different when the box office charts take inflation into consideration — even while still ignoring Avatar's 3D/IMAX premium surcharges.

Box Office Mojo estimates that Avatar is now #26 on the all-time domestic box office chart adjusted for inflation, or eight slots higher than it was ten days ago. It's a notch above the 1965 James Bond flick Thunderball – that's when Sean Connery was still synonymous with Bond – and below the 1978 John Travolta-Olivia Newton-John musical Grease.

Avatar is expected to gross somewhere between $25-30 million this weekend. If so, that means it'll be #21 on Monday, having passed the aforementioned Grease, plus Disney's The Lion King, Disney and Julie Andrews' Mary Poppins, Robert Zemeckis and Tom Hanks' Disneyesque Forrest Gump and Francis Ford Coppola's Oscar-winning The Godfather, which has nothing to do with Walt Disney in any way whatsoever.

Still right ahead of Avatar will be Fantasia (multiple rereleases), George Lucas' Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, Mike Nichols' The Graduate, and Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Once again, bear in mind that those are approximations based on “average” ticket prices provided by the National Association of Theater Owners. (Box Office Mojo came up with its own estimated average – $7.35 – for 2010; that's the same as NATO's 2009 “average.”) An accurate calculation of a film's popularity at the box office – as in, the number of tickets sold (and its ratio to the population size at the time) – would be based on where a movie made most of its money, e.g., a top-dollar New York house, in thousands of cheap small-town theaters, or at 3D/IMAX theaters that charge a premium.

It's also worth remembering that population increases, changes in movie-going demographics, and the growth of entertainment alternatives (home video, cable television, pay-per-view options) should all be taken into consideration when comparing the box office success of movies from different eras. And that many of the movies found on Box Office Mojo's inflation-adjusted chart had one, two, or a dozen rereleases throughout the decades.

The effect of piracy on a movie's box office performance remains highly debatable. It all depends on the type of movie (would you rather watch Avatar on your computer screen or at a 3D movie house?), the quality of the pirated material (high-def. copies vs. crummy reproductions), and where the copying is taking place (Beverly Hills or Lagos or Karachi, where most people who'd buy 50-cent copies of Hollywood flicks wouldn't be able to afford going to the movies, anyhow).

If 3D/IMAX premium surcharges were factored in, Avatar would be way further down Box Office Mojo's inflation-adjusted chart. As I've already explained in the comments section of a previous Avatar post, the 3D/IMAX surcharges can add quite a bit to Avatar's overall take: somewhere between 25-30 and 40 percent. Other movies, including the vast majority of recent releases, didn't (and still don't) have that sort of advantage – certainly not to Avatar's extent (80 percent of its domestic gross has come from 3D and/or IMAX screenings).

So, even if you go for the lower end of the scale and deduct only 25 percent from Avatar's total earnings, the 2010 box office sensation would have taken in “only” $423.2 million, placing it at …

… #65, ahead of Disney's 2003 animated Finding Nemo, behind Burt Reynolds' 1978 action flick for hicks Smokey and the Bandit.

If you go for a mid-level percentage, or about 33 percent, Avatar's “2D-equivalent revenues” (in terms of admissions) would be $376.3 million, which would place it at …

… #92, ironically, right behind another 3D movie, Vincent Price's House of Wax (1953) and right ahead of Alfred Hitchcock's James Stewart-Grace Kelly thriller Rear Window (1954).

Bear in mind that those are approximations based on “average” ticket prices provided by the National Association of Theater Owners. (Box Office Mojo came up with its own estimated average – $7.35 – for 2010; that's the same as NATO's 2009 “average.”) An accurate calculation of a film's popularity at the box office – as in, the number of tickets sold (and its ratio to the population size at the time) – would be based on where a movie made most of its money, e.g., a top-dollar New York house or in thousands of cheaper small-town theaters.

It's also worth remembering that population increases, changes in movie-going demographics, and the growth of entertainment alternatives (home video, cable television, pay-per-view options) should all be taken into consideration when comparing the box office success of movies from different eras. And that many of the movies found on Box Office Mojo's inflation-adjusted chart had one or more rereleases throughout the years.

Jan. 25

On Saturday, James Cameron's Avatar overtook Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight at the domestic box office. On Monday, it overtook Cameron's own Titanic at the worldwide (including the US) box office.

Avatar has been out for about six weeks. It has grossed $1.292 billion overseas and $551.7 million domestically (US/Canada). Titanic, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, grossed $1.242 billion overseas and $600.8 million domestically. Avatar's worldwide total currently stands at $1.843.7 billion; Titanic's take (after a number of months) was $1.842.8 billion.

Impressive? Sure. Even so, Avatar still has quite some ways to go before it matches the number of tickets sold for The Dark Knight domestically ($533.7 million in revenues), and a long, long, long way to go before it matches the number of tickets sold for Titanic on a global scale.

What many reports opt to ignore – or to have buried somewhere near the end of the article – is that Avatar made most of its money at 3D and/or IMAX screenings that charge a sizable premium. The vast majority of blockbusters that came before Avatar didn't have that box office plus.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, at least 65 percent of the film's overseas box office and almost 80 percent of its domestic take have been generated at 3D venues, which can double (or more) the cost of an “average"* movie ticket price. For comparison's sake: The Dark Knight earned a mere 6.5 percent of its worldwide revenues from IMAX screenings. That's why when it comes to the number of tickets sold, Avatar still lags behind a whole bunch of other movies both domestically and internationally.

The Reporter adds that Avatar is now the biggest-grossing film (if you ignore inflation) of all time in China, Spain, Russia, Hong Kong (actually part of China, but never mind), and Chile, and the biggest Hollywood hit ever in India. Other top markets include France** ($124.8 million total), Germany ($95.8 million), the U.K. and Ireland ($93.2 million), South Korea ($79.7 million), Japan ($77.7 million), Australia ($77 million) and Spain ($76 million). (See Box Office Mojo chart.)

The fact that the US currency remains in the dumps helps as well, for the money generated overseas buys many more dollars, thus inflating Avatar's foreign revenues. On the other hand, back in 1998, when Titanic was earning millions abroad, the dollar was remarkably strong.

According to the Reporter, the actual #1 box office hit the world over remains a 71-year-old movie, Gone with the Wind. The article claims the Clark Gable-Vivien Leigh Civil War drama grossed $400 million worldwide in 1939, the equivalent of $6 billion today.

Although I have no doubt that Gone with the Wind was a much bigger sensation upon its release than Avatar is or ever will be, I'm pretty positive that the Reporter's figures for the original GWTW receipts include rereleases as well. (See Box Office Mojo's all-time figures adjusted for inflation; note that this chart only covers domestic revenues.)

* “Average” ticket prices nationwide in any given year are provided by the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO). Box Office Mojo has come up with an estimate of $7.35 for 2010; those are the same figures as the ones NATO provided for 2009. Bear in mind that those “averages” won't necessarily reflect the number of tickets a movie has sold in any given year. In order to come up with a relatively accurate estimate, it's crucial to know where a movie made most of its money – a top-dollar house or a cheaper small-town or neighborhood theater.

** Includes Monaco, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia

Photos: Avatar (WETA / 20th Century Fox); Titanic (20th Century Fox)

Avatar Sam Worthington Na'Vi The Dark Knight'Avatar' with Sam Worthington as a Na'Vi (and Sigourney Weaver in the background): Truly topping 'The Dark Knight' this weekend?

'Avatar' surpasses 'The Dark Knight' domestic box office – but not in ticket sales

Jan. 24, '10, update: James Cameron's sci-fi blockbuster Avatar topped once again the U.S. and Canada box office this weekend (Jan. 22–24), collecting a solid $36 million according to studio estimates released today. Average: $11,461 per theater at 3,141 sites.

Partly as a result of inflated 3D ticket prices, Avatar has now surpassed the $533 million domestic gross of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, lifting its cume to $552.7 million. Avatar is also on track to beat the worldwide total of Cameron's Titanic within the next ten days or so.

In the Avatar cast:

Sam Worthington. Zoe Saldana. Stephen Lang. Joel David Moore. Giovanni Ribisi. Wes Studi. CCH Pounder. Michelle Rodriguez. Laz Alonso.

Three-time Academy Award nominee Sigourney Weaver (lead for Aliens, 1986, and Gorillas in the Mist, 1988; supporting for Working Girl, 1988).

'Legion' trailing at a distant second, 'Tooth Fairy' has toothless debut

As found at boxofficemojo.com, among this weekend's weak batch of new releases Scott Charles Stewart's Legion delivered the best performance, raking in $18.2 million – about half of what Avatar earned on its sixth weekend out but enough for the no. 2 slot.

Starring Lucas Black and Paul Bettany, and featuring veteran Dennis Quaid (The Big Easy, In Good Company), Legion chronicles the endless war between humans and angels.

Michael Lembeck's widely panned Tooth Fairy opened in fourth place with $14.5 million at 3,344 venues. Starring Dwayne Johnson, the comedy follows a mean-spirited hockey player playing the role of a kindhearted tooth fairy. Also in the cast: Ashley Judd, Seth MacFarlane, and veteran Julie Andrews (The Sound of Music, S.O.B.).

Harrison Ford movie bombs

Also opening this weekend was Tom Vaughan's Extraordinary Measures, which finished seventh with a dismal $7 million. Starring Harrison Ford – he of decades-old blockbusters such as Star Wars, Witness, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Clear and Present Danger – Brendan Fraser, and Keri Russell, the film averaged a meager $2,746 at 2,549 locations.

Taking inflation into account, Extraordinary Measures happens to have suffered the worst opening weekend ever of a Harrison Ford movie in wide release. Ford's previous opening weekend nadir, Sydney Pollack's romantic comedy Sabrina, debuted with $5.56 million (not adjusted) at 1,821 locations in Dec. 1995.

Extraordinary Measures Harrison Ford Brendan Fraser Keri Russell bomb'Extraordinary Measures' with Harrison Ford, Brendan Fraser and Keri Russell: Major box office bomb.

'The Book of Eli' still strong

Trailing Legion at no. 3, The Book of Eli, which features Best Actor Oscar winner Denzel Washington (Training Day, 2001), held up well with $17 million. Domestic total: $62 million.

Trailing Tooth Fairy at no. 5, Peter Jackson's psychological/crime drama The Lovely Bones, starring Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, and Saoirse Ronan, took in $8.8 million and a cume of $31.6 million. Also in the cast: Stanley Tucci and Best Actress Academy Award winner Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking, 1995).

Guy Ritchie's blockbuster Sherlock Holmes, featuring Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, and Rachel McAdams, was no. 6, bringing in $7.1 million. Domestic cume: $191.5 million.

Trailing Extraordinary Measures at no. 8, kiddie flick Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel pulled in $6.5 million. Total to date: a whopping $204.2 million.

Meryl Streep comedy nears $100 million milestone

Displaying remarkably sturdy legs after five weeks, Nancy Meyers' comedy It's Complicated collected $6.1 million at no. 9. Current cume: $98.6 million. Expect the Meryl Streep star vehicle to pass the $100 million milestone sometime this week.

Also in the It's Complicated cast:

Steve Martin. Alec Baldwin. Lake Bell. John Krasinski. Mary Kay Place. Hunter Parrish. Rita Wilson. Zoe Kazan. Alexandra Wentworth.

Caitlin FitzGerald. Nora Dunn. James Patrick Stewart. Emjay Anthony. Heitor Pereira. Ramin Djawadi. Cameos: Alan Cumming. Oprah Winfrey.

It's Complicated is Meryl Streep's second 2009 hit directed by a woman, following Julie & Julia, costarring Amy Adams and helmed by Nora Ephron.

Sandra Bullock, George Clooney gone from Top Ten

Rounding out the Top Ten this weekend was the Jackie Chan action comedy The Spy Next Door, which scored $4.7 million. Total: $18.7 million after about ten days.

Gone from the Top Ten:

  • The Sandra Bullock blockbuster The Blind Side, also featuring Tim McGraw. John Lee Hancock directed.
  • Jason Reitman's Up in the Air, starring George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, and Anna Kendrick.
  • The Amy Adams-Matthew Goode romantic comedy Leap Year.
  • Michael and Peter Spierig's vampire flick Daybreakers, toplining Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, and Sam Neill.

'Avatar' tops Friday box office, but won't be topping the SAG Awards tonight

Jan. 23 update: Avatar easily remained at the top of the domestic box office on Friday (Jan. 22), grossing $9.15 million according to official studio estimates. James Cameron's 3D sci-fi tale had a small 12 percent drop from the previous Friday. After 36 days out, Avatar's total domestic take stands at $525.9 million.

Thanks to 3D/IMAX surcharges, sometime today Avatar will pass (or has already passed) the $533.3 million domestic gross of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, thus officially becoming the no. 2 all-time blockbuster at the U.S. and Canada box office.

However, it'll still be a while before Avatar sells more tickets than Nolan's second Batman movie starring Christian Bale, Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner Heath Ledger, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Aaron Eckhart.

The SAG Awards take place tonight in Los Angeles, but Avatar isn't up for any of the acting awards. Not exactly a good sign re: its Oscar chances.

Written and directed by Cameron, the Best Picture Drama and Best Director 2010 Golden Globe winner stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and veteran Sigourney Weaver.

Tooth Fairy Julie Andrews Dwayne Johnson worst film'Tooth Fairy' with Julie Andrews: Box office flop starring Dwayne Johnson 'the worst film of the new decade.'

Battle between angels and humans loses out to battle between Na'vi and humans

Trailing Avatar, newcomer Legion was the no. 2 movie on Friday, raking in $6.7 million and a good $2,706 per screen average. Lucas Black and Paul Bettany star.

Featuring Denzel Washington, Albert and Allen Hughes' post-apocalyptic drama The Book of Eli fell one spot to third place with $4.93 million – a steep 58 percent drop from last week.

Another new movie, the Dwayne Johnson star vehicle Tooth Fairy, did so-so business, debuting with an estimated $3.5 million or $1,047 per screen. Ashley Judd and Best Actress Oscar winner Julie Andrews (Mary Poppins, 1964) costar.

Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones was no. 5 with $2.6 million – down a hefty 55 percent. The psychological crime drama about a dead girl, the psycho who murdered her, and her grieving family stars BAFTA nominee Saoirse Ronan, Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, BAFTA and SAG Award nominee Stanley Tucci, and veteran Susan Sarandon (Thelma & Louise, Lorenzo's Oil).

And finally, the Harrison Ford-Brendan Fraser vehicle Extraordinary Measures opened at no. 6 with a dismal $2 million or $801 per screen. This will undoubtedly be the weekend's biggest box office bomb.

'Avatar' to be dethroned?

Jan. 22 update: Avatar may lose the top spot at the domestic box office on Friday, as the James Cameron-Sam Worthington collaboration will be going against three new releases:

  • The Dwayne Johnson star vehicle Tooth Fairy (“the worst film of the new decade,” according to Alt Film Guide contributor Frank Tabouring at Screening Log), also featuring Ashley Judd and veteran Julie Andrews (That's Life!, Duet for One).
  • The poorly received Extraordinary Measures, starring Harrison Ford, Brendan Fraser, and Keri Russell.
  • Legion, toplining Lucas Black and Paul Bettany, which hasn't been screened for critics – usually not the best of signs. Also in the cast: Veteran Dennis Quaid (The Right Stuff, The Day After Tomorrow).

'Avatar' still leading the pack

Jan. 20: With $4.1 million on Tuesday, Jan. 19, Avatar continues to lead the domestic box office. James Cameron's sci-fi epic starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and veteran Sigourney Weaver (Alien, The Year of Living Dangerously) had a relatively modest 17 percent drop when compared to the previous Tuesday.

It's a little unclear whether the Golden Globes announced this past weekend have made any impact on the film's box office take. Monday's $11+ million figure may well have been merely due to the Martin Luther King holiday, as non-nominated kiddie flicks such as Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel and The Spy Next Door also fared well.

In other Tuesday box office news, Scott Cooper's Crazy Heart, which earned Jeff Bridges the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama, pulled in $79,000. Total to date: $2.36 million.

Meanwhile, Chris Weitz's New Moon, the second installment in the wildly popular Twilight Saga franchise, added nearly $74,000. Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner star. Total to date: $292.5 million.

 

Image of Sigourney Weaver (background) and Sam Worthington as Na'vi in Avatar: ILM / 20th Century Fox.

Keri Russell, Brendan Fraser, and Harrison Ford Extraordinary Measures image: CBS Films.

Julie Andrews Tooth Fairy image: Diyah Pera / 20th Century Fox).

Avatar Sam Worthington Third biggest domestic blockbuster'Avatar' with Sam Worthington: Third biggest domestic blockbuster? Box office figures boosted by higher ticket prices.

'Avatar' now officially third biggest domestic blockbuster

Jan. 19, '10, update: On Monday, Jan. 18, Avatar topped the U.S. and Canada box office once again, with $11.6 million in ticket sales. That was more than twice the amount – $5.6 million – collected by the no. 2 film on the chart, Denzel Washington's newly released post-apocalyptic drama The Book of Eli. (See this past weekend's box office figures further below.)

Avatar's domestic total currently stands at $504.8 million, which means that James Cameron's sci-fi/fantasy extravaganza starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Sigourney Weaver is now the third biggest blockbuster ever at the domestic box office (not taking inflation or higher 3D/IMAX ticket prices into account).

Avatar is less than $30 million behind Christopher Nolan's The Dark Night ($533.3 million) and less than $100 million behind Cameron's own Titanic ($600.7 million).

When you're talking about small movies, $30 million is a staggering figure; Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker, for instance, took in less than half that amount in North America. But when you're talking about mega-blockbusters, $30 million can be a (admittedly, sizable) drop in the bucket.

If Avatar keeps up its pace, it should be ahead of The Dark Knight when weekend estimates are announced next Sunday. And if it keeps on going steadily, it'll be ahead of Titanic well before the end of February.

No. 2 at worldwide box office

Worldwide – not adjusted for inflation or currency exchange variations – Avatar remains the no. 2 movie, with $1.637 billion, as it gets closer and closer to Titanic. The Leonardo DiCaprio-Kate Winslet 2D hit grossed $1.842 billion back in 1998.

At least in part as a result of the U.S. dollar's weakness in most key film markets, more than 69 percent of Avatar's grosses have originated overseas, as revenues coming from other countries represent more in dollar terms. (Needless to say, current exchange rates have also helped to boost the film's worldwide total in U.S. dollars.)

The inflation factor

Now, as I've stated in previous Avatar box office gross posts, things change quite a bit when inflation is added to the box office accounting mix – even while disregarding Avatar's 3D/IMAX premium surcharges that markedly distort the perception of the film's actual popularity (based on the number of tickets sold).

Using annual domestic ticket price “averages” provided by the National Association of Theater Owners, Box Office Mojo estimates that Avatar is now at a relatively modest no. 34 on the all-time domestic box office chart adjusted for inflation – which, though hardly flawless, more accurately reflects domestic ticket sales' rankings.

James Cameron's fantasy adventure is thus found slightly ahead of Sam Raimi-Tobey Maguire's original Spider-Man ($510.7 million in 2002) and a few million dollars behind the Ryan O'Neal-Ali MacGraw melodrama Love Story ($514.4 million in 1970).

Reminder: If 3D/IMAX premium surcharges were included in the calculations to better reflect domestic ticket sales, Avatar would be much further down the list.

'Avatar' to trail 'Sleeping Beauty'?

If Avatar adds another $15 million by Friday, as it quite likely will, it'll land on the inflation-adjusted all-time chart's 30th spot, behind Walt Disney's 1959 animated Sleeping Beauty ($534.1 million).

In addition to Love Story, Avatar will have passed the Robert Redford-Paul Newman Western Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), Ivan Reitman's Ghostbusters (1984), and DreamWorks' animated Shrek 2 (2004).

Other important all-time box office chart factors

Once again, it's worth remembering that those are approximations based on “average” domestic ticket prices. These prices, however, can vary widely depending on where a movie made most of its money, e.g., a top-dollar New York house, in thousands of cheap small-town theaters, at matinees catering to children, or at 3D/IMAX theaters that charge a premium.

It's also worth remembering that population increases, changes in movie-going demographics and film distribution strategies, and the growth of entertainment options (TV, DVD, pay-per-view, the Internet, etc.) should all be taken into consideration when comparing the box office success of movies from different eras.

Now, the role of piracy in terms of how it affects a movie's box office performance remains debatable. It all depends on the type of movie (would you or anyone else rather watch Avatar on your 20 inch computer screen or at a 3D/IMAX movie house?), the quality of the pirated material (high-definition vs. crummy reproductions), and where the film pirating is taking place (Beverly Hills or Lagos? In the latter city, most people who'd buy 50 cent copies of Hollywood flicks wouldn't be able to afford going to the movies anyhow).

'Pagan,' 'racist' & 'anti-American' blockbuster an awards-season favorite

Despite accusations of racism and paganism, plus anti-Americanism and pro-smoking-ism, as mentioned further up in this post, Avatar has been shortlisted by various Hollywood guilds and unions.

On Jan. 17, Avatar took home the 2010 Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture Drama and Best Director. And finally, it'll surely be among the top nominees when the Academy Award nominations are announced on Feb. 2.

'Avatar' cast

Written and directed by James Cameron, besides Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Sigourney Weaver,[1] Avatar features the following:

Stephen Lang. Giovanni Ribisi. CCH Pounder. Joel David Moore. Dileep Rao.

Wes Studi. Michelle Rodriguez. Sean Anthony Moran. Matt Gerald. Sean Patrick Murphy. Laz Alonso.

Avatar Zoe Saldana Na'vi lose battle win war'Avatar' with Zoe Saldana: Na'vi lose battle but win war.

Weekend box office: 'Avatar' loses battle, but wins war against 'The Book of Eli,' (sort of) beats 'Star Wars'

Jan. 17 update: A 20th Century Fox release, James Cameron's sci-fi/fantasy mix Avatar, toplining Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Sigourney Weaver, held on to the no. 1 spot at the North American box office this weekend (Jan. 15–17), collecting $41.3 million according to official studio estimates. That represents a modest 18 percent drop from a week ago.

Avatar had lost the top spot to new entry The Book of Eli on Friday, but regained momentum on Saturday, eventually winning the weekend race with a remarkable $12,572 average (last week: $14,173) at 3,285 locations. Total to date: $491.7 million.

As predicted, Avatar has passed George Lucas' 1977 sci-fier Star Wars at the domestic box office. Avatar's total domestic gross to date stands at $491.7 million vs. Star Wars' $460.9 million. Cameron's film is now the third biggest blockbuster ever in the U.S. and Canada (not taking inflation and higher 3D/IMAX ticket prices into account).

With $533.3 million, Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight is now within reach of Avatar. In fact, Pandora should be ahead of Gotham City a week from today.

Star Wars features Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Peter Cushing, and Best Supporting Actor nominee Alec Guinness. The Dark Knight stars Christian Bale, Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner Heath Ledger, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Aaron Eckhart.

'The Book of Eli' strong runner-up, Jackie Chan bombs

Trailing Avatar, Albert and Allen Hughes' The Book of Eli had to make do with runner-up status, picking up a still solid $31.6 million at 3,111 locations for an equally solid $10,162 average.

Featuring Best Actor Oscar winner Denzel Washington (Training Day, 2001), Mila Kunis, Jennifer Beals, and Ray Stevenson, the post-apocalyptic action drama follows a man on his solitary journey to protect … a book.

Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones, which earned star Saoirse Ronan the 2010 Best Young Actress Critics Choice Award on Friday, was no. 3 with $17 million after expanding to $2,563 locations. In addition to Ronan, the metaphysical crime thriller stars Mark Wahlberg, Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener, 2005), Stanley Tucci, and Best Actress Oscar winner Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking, 1995).

Brian Levant's The Spy Next Door, along with The Book of Eli one of this weekend's wide releases, landed in an uncomfortably soft sixth place with $9.7 million at 2,924 locations. In the kiddie flick, Jackie Chan plays a spy babysitting his girlfriend's children while trying to protect the brats from a Russian psycho/terrorist combo.

The Lovely Bones Saoirse Ronan metaphysical crime drama'The Lovely Bones' with Saoirse Ronan: Once touted as likely Oscar contender, Peter Jackson's metaphysical crime drama disappoints.

'Sherlock Holmes' succumbs to 'Chipmunks'

Another kiddie flick, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, was no. 4 this weekend, bringing in $11.5 million. Total to date: $192.5 million.

Now trailing the Chipmunks – instead of having them gnawing at his heels as in previous weekends – Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, and Rachel McAdams, was next in line with $9.8 million. The Guy Ritchie-directed adventure flick has reached a cume of $180 million.

Starring two-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep (supporting for Kramer vs. Kramer, 1979; lead for Sophie's Choice, 1982), Nancy Meyers' It's Complicated took in $7.6 million at no. 7 for a total of $88.2 million. Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin costar.

At no. 8, Anand Tucker's Leap Year pulled in $5.8 million. Starring Amy Adams, Matthew Goode, and Adam Scott, the romantic comedy has reached a paltry cume of $17.5 million.

'New Moon' to reach $300 million?

The no. 9 movie was Sandra Bullock's sleeper hit The Blind Side with $5.5 million and a total of $226.7 million. Tim McGraw and Quinton Aaron are Bullock's fellow actors in John Lee Hancock's socially conscious family drama.

Rounding out the Top Ten with $5.4 million was Jason Reitman's well-received Up in the Air, starring likely Best Actor Oscar nominee George Clooney, and likely Best Supporting Actress nominees Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick. Total to date: $62.8 million.

Gone from the Top Ten: Disney's The Princess and the Frog.

Jan. 19 update: On Monday, Jan. 18, Chris Weitz's fantasy The Twilight Saga: New Moon added $205,000 at no. 15 for a total of $292.4 million. The $300 million mark is within reach; perhaps not likely, but not impossible.

In the cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Dakota Fanning, Michael Sheen, Elizabeth Reaser, Ashley Greene, Kellan Lutz, Jackson Rathbone, Peter Facinelli, and Nikki Reed.

And here are next weekend's wide releases:

  • Extraordinary Measures with Harrison Ford, Keri Russell, and Brendan Fraser.
  • Tooth Fairy with Dwayne Johnson and veteran Julie Andrews (The Sound of Music, Little Miss Marker).
  • Legion with Paul Bettany, Lucas Black, and veteran Dennis Quaid (Breaking Away, The Right Stuff).
The Book of Eli Denzel Washington Post-apocalyptic world'The Book of Eli' with Denzel Washington: Post-apocalyptic world beats Pandora's charms on opening day.

The end is near? 'The Book of Eli' beats 'Avatar' on Friday

Jan. 16: On Friday, Jan. 15, the day it won six 2010 Critics' Choice Awards including Best Action Movie – for some people, these categories do matter – Avatar was dethroned by The Book of Eli at the domestic box office.

On Day 1, Albert and Allen Hughes' violent, post-apocalyptic tale earned $11.7 million at 3,111 screens; Avatar, for its part, collected $10.4 million at 3,285 venues. Of course, James Cameron's movie starring Sam Worthington has the advantage of higher ticket prices. Its just as obvious disadvantage is that Avatar has been around for 28 days.

'Avatar' vs. 'Star Wars': Battle to the (near-)top

Also worth noting is that on Friday Avatar almost – but almost – became the third biggest grosser ever at the domestic box office (not adjusted for inflation or higher 3D/IMAX ticket prices). Forget environmentally conscious Na'vi vs. greedy, destructive humans. The real battle was between George Lucas' Star Wars with $460.998 million vs. Avatar with $460.867 million.

But rest assured: at some point earlier today, Avatar became the no. 3 highest-grossing movie at the U.S. and Canada box office. And it may become the weekend's biggest grosser as well, depending on how The Book of Eli fares today and tomorrow. Three weeks ago, Avatar trailed Sherlock Holmes on its debut Friday, but Sam Worthington and pals ended up victorious for the three-day weekend.

Unloved 'The Lovely Bones,' 'The Spy Next Door'

And finally, Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones, which earned star Saoirse Ronan the Best Young Actress Critics Choice Award last night, was no. 3 after expanding to 2,563 screens.

Previously considered one of the top contenders in the 2010 Oscar race, Jackson's supernatural crime/family drama failed to find much favor among critics. Even so, the film scored a – relatively speaking – respectable $5.7 million.

At no. 6, new entry The Spy Next Door can officially be considered a bomb, having earned only $2.4 million at 2,924 screens. Jackie Chan stars.

Oscar history-maker Sigourney Weaver

[1] Veteran Sigourney Weaver (Eyewitness, Aliens), by the way, is a three-time Academy Award nominee:

  • Best Actress for James Cameron's Aliens (1986).
    Winner: Marlee Matlin for Randa Haines' Children of a Lesser God.
  • Best Actress for Michael Apted's Gorillas in the Mist (1988).
    Winner: Jodie Foster for Jonathan Kaplan's The Accused.
  • Best Supporting Actress for Mike Nichols' Working Girl (1988).
    Winner: Geena Davis for Lawrence Kasdan's The Accidental Tourist.

In 1988, Sigourney Weaver became only the fourth performer to receive a double Oscar nomination in the acting categories (following Fay Bainter, 1938; Teresa Wright, 1942; and Barry Fitzgerald, for the same performance, 1944).

Also in 1988, Weaver made Academy Award history of sorts by becoming the first double Oscar loser in the acting categories.

 

Saoirse Ronan The Lovely Bones image: Barry Wetcher / DreamWorks / Paramount.

Sam Worthington Avatar image: Mark Fellman / 20th Century Fox.

Zoe Saldana Avatar image: WETA / 20th Century Fox.

Denzel Washington The Book of Eli image: David Lee / Warner Bros.

If you liked the article 'Avatar' Gross: No. 3 All-Time Domestic vs. the Inflation Factor, please recommend it to your friends. See floating share buttons on the left.
Follow Alt Film Guide on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.

Continue Reading: New 'Spider-Man' Director + Meredith Monk DVD

Previous Post: Michael C. Hall & Jim Parsons, Ricky Gervais on Mel Gibson: Golden Globes

'Avatar' Gross: No. 3 All-Time Domestic vs. the Inflation Factor © 2004–2017 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
Text NOT to be reproduced without prior written consent.

Leave a comment about ''Avatar' Gross: No. 3 All-Time Domestic vs. the Inflation Factor'

UPDATED COMMENTING RULES: Our articles and/or other people's comments infuriate you?

Well, here's the good news: It's perfectly okay to disagree with our own and/or other commenters' views and opinions.

But ... *thoughtfulness* and *at least a modicum of sanity* are imperative.

In other words: Add something reasonable & coherent to the discussion.

Spammy, abusive, bigoted, baseless (spreading misinformation), trollish/inflammatory, and/or just plain demented comments will be zapped and offenders may be banned.

Also, bear in mind that links found in comments will generally be deleted.

Most recent comments listed on top.

52 Comments to 'Avatar' Gross: No. 3 All-Time Domestic vs. the Inflation Factor

  1. Jim D

    James Cameron has another blockbuster on his hands and still the Oscars rufuses to give him any credit. He has proven he can make movies that the public loves. His peers should give him the credit he deserves.

  2. Captain Rick

    I still love that adjusted for inflation “Gone With The Wind” totally blows all the other films out of the water.

  3. Nelson James

    Perspective is a good thing. You have to take it into account to get as close to accurate a picture as possible. For instance the cost of production of a film has to come into play when one discusses profitability. $100 mil sounds like a lot of moola, but RoI will certainly have to be adjusted if the film cost $70 mill to make as opposed to say $300,000.

    All in all there seems to be a lot of people that really want this movie to break all records. Why I don't know, it's just another movie, although a very glitzy one I must admit. When it comes to the subjective, it makes no sense to debate quality or anything else. Just nod, or shake your head and kick the dust off your sandals.

  4. Zarathustra

    I will not ever pay to see another Mel Gibshit film…. I won't even watch him for free when he;s on cable.

  5. Chls

    Oh, my! We'll have to wait another 10 days for ANOTHER record to be broken??
    I don't think I can stand such a long wait.
    Everyone should go see AVATAR this week and get this over with right away.

  6. Jeremy

    Costs are much higher too. In the end it all evens out, wouldn't you say?

  7. Lina

    Good for Meryl Streep. See, movies with and by women can be big box-office hits. When will Hollwyood listen?

  8. xu

    The Ford movie was baaaaaaaaaaaad.

  9. Tony

    “higher prices=lower demand”

    So why is it that out of the top 25 highest grossing movies off all time (domestic), 18 of them came from the last decade (2000s)? In fact, FIVE of them are from the past 2 years.

  10. JonDoe

    This website is obsessed with the incredibly useless “adjusted for inflation” box office numbers. Fox doesn't care, because they're not getting paid in 1939 or 1998 dollars anyways. Here's something that every writer seems to ignore when it comes to this story:

    Higher prices=lower demand

    …and yet, Avatar continues to soar in a recession. Even when you factor in that there are so many entertainment options in this decade, as well as being the most pirated film ever.

  11. TOM

    No matter what you say Avatar will be regarded as the greatest movie of our time, GWTW was seen only in America no body else would have even cared about seeing it, AVATAR has no barriers as to language, religion, Age or country ie is why it is the greatest movie ever made.

  12. Keith

    It is going to be interesting to see how Avatar is going to do in the next few weeks. Titanic actually picked up some steam between weeks 6 and 9.

    I finally got around to seeing Avatar on Thursday and while I was expecting to be blown away—it was well beyond that. I'm stunned at how good this movie is. Some are complaining about the hype but I think it should be hyped way more than it is. Everyone in the world should see it at least once

  13. mh

    >>>>>>>>>>>You are comparing apples and oranges.

    I don't disagree with you — because that was my point as well.

    >>>>>>A quick look at the AMC theater guide for LA tells us that a regular film (Book of Eli) costs $10.00, Avatar in 3D costs $14.00 that's a lot different then your $7.35 to $15.00 or $17.00 “average”.

    That's where you're getting me wrong.

    The $7.35 figure is not **my** average. That's the estimated (for 2010) nationwide average provided by Box Office Mojo, based on what's provided by film exhibitors all over the US. That's what is normally used to calculate the # of tickets a movie has sold. And it's *wrong* to do that. *That* is my point in the article above.

    That's also why if you look at the text above, you'll see that I have the word “average” in quotes.

    And that's why I say in my comment above that it's crucial to know where a movie made most of its money, whether it's “Avatar” or “Gone with the Wind.” (And you can be sure that most of “Avatar's” money is coming not from small-town Kansas or Idaho, but from major centers like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, etc., where ticket prices, whether $14 or $15.50 at the Landmark Westwood or $16.50 at the IMAX AMC Century City, are more than double the nationwide “average” used to estimate the # of tickets a movie has sold. Of course, that also works for other releases that earn most of their money in major urban areas.)

    As for the $10-$14 discrepancy you mention — well, it's only four dollars. No! That's a *huge* 40% price increase.

    $7 to $9 in small-town Kansas. That's still a hefty 28.5% increase. Not much when we're discussing dollars and cents. A whole lot when we're discussing hundreds of millions of dollars. For every $100 million a movie makes at regular screenings, you'll have to add anywhere between $28.5m to $40m to get the equivalent box-office receipts of a movie shown on 3D/IMAX. That's a lot!

    I'll add a note to the text to make it clear that the $7.35 average isn't something *I* came up with.

  14. joe

    In fact, just to keep this going…

    I just did a check in Leawood, Kansas. Regular ticket prices are $7.00, what does Avatar in 3D at the same theater? $9.00.

  15. joe

    >>>>>>Joe, nope. That's not “total crap.” Average ticket prices for 2010 (estimates) are $7.35. For example, if you try to go see “Avatar” in 3D in Los Angeles, chances are you'll have to pay $15 or $17 to get in.

    That is more than double the “average” ticket price used to calculate tickets sold in any given year.<<<<

    You are comparing apples and oranges.

    Sure $7.35 might be the average movie cost in Lyons, Kansas but what does Avatar cost to see there?

    $15 or $17 might be the cost to see it in 3D in LA but what is a normal movie ticket at that same theater?

    You are comparing the nation wide average (including all the small towns and small theaters that charge a lot less for shows) to the 3D price in a major city.

    That's not very accurate.

    A quick look at the AMC theater guide for LA tells us that a regular film (Book of Eli) costs $10.00, Avatar in 3D costs $14.00 that's a lot different then your $7.35 to $15.00 or $17.00 "average".

  16. mh

    Melissa,

    Fascinating. Thank you for the chart.

  17. mh

    >>>>>GWTW did not make $198 mil in 1939; that sum represents the total grossed from many re-releases over the subsequent decades.

    Jacen, I'm sure you're right. The Box Office Mojo figures are adjusted for those rereleases, based on “average” ticket prices. That can be tricky as well. It all depends on where the movie made most of its money.

    >>>>>>>“which can double (or more) the cost of an “average” movie ticket price” is total crap.

    Joe, nope. That's not “total crap.” Average ticket prices for 2010 (estimates) are $7.35. For example, if you try to go see “Avatar” in 3D in Los Angeles, chances are you'll have to pay $15 or $17 to get in.

    That is more than double the “average” ticket price used to calculate tickets sold in any given year.

    >>>>>>>>>(BTW – GWTW also charged a premium during its initial release due to the cost and spectacle and anticipation involved. I don't see anyone trying to discount the movie's boxoffice success because of that.)

    TL, actually, that has been mentioned in my previous posts on inflation-adjusted tallies. In order to be accurate (re: tickets sold), it's crucial to know *where* a movie made most of its money — in top-dollar houses or neighborhood theaters or …

    >>>>>>>(BTW – Most studios care a lot more about dollars earned than tickets sold. If they could make a movie that people would pay $100 a ticket for they would be glad to sell a few less tickets in return. It's actually more financially profitable to make more money with fewer screenings.)

    If they could make a movie that ONE person would go see and pay $2 billion for the ticket, they would do it. Who could blame them? I would too!

    But that would be ONE ticket sold. A record-breaking box-office hit. ONE ticket sold.

    I'm not being a naysayer. I don't care if AVATAR is #1 or #1000 on the charts. I didn't make the movie. I didn't hate the movie. I have nothing to gain either way. I just can't understand why seeing through the hype and attempting to put things in perspective is seen as an attack on the film itself. I find that curious.

  18. james

    lets see how much avatar ends up getting…

  19. shailu

    I didn't see this movie but i listen about it from many of my friends they watch it &tell me to do so they told me how a man can imagine.this is really fantastic movie i have seen it trailer

  20. joe

    Well I agree that you can and perhaps should compare older boxoffice totals with today's films, I disagree about using things like ticket sales and 3D pricing to take a kick at the current films.

    We have know way of ever knowing how much of a difference the 3D is making in ticket sales. If the film had been released as only 2D then maybe it would have been just as popular. We can't know for sure. Also, the statement that 3D tickets “which can double (or more) the cost of an “average” movie ticket price” is total crap. I can't believe that any theater is charging double for a ticket to Avatar in 3D. Here in Canada, at least, it only costs $3.00 more for seeing the film in Imax 3D then a regular ticket.

    So if you want to get technical you would have to figure out how many tickets were sold in 3D screenings and then take $3.00 off the boxoffice total for each ticket sold and use that number. But even then that is faulty statistics.

    It's just easier to say Avatar is the highest grossing film of all time, and the naysayers will just have to live with it.

  21. TL

    Gone With the Wind did NOT make 198,000,000 in 1939. That would have collapsed the economy. If it has truly made that much over its run it has been the accumulation of many rereleases. Most at much higher prices than it cost in 1939. (BTW - GWTW also charged a premium during its initial release due to the cost and spectacle and anticipation involved. I don't see anyone trying to discount the movie's boxoffice success because of that.)

    So 70 years of release compared to 38 days for Avatar. They're not pulling Avatar from the theaters yet. If it runs long enough maybe this little movie can finally impress some of the naysayers who keep trying to find ways to crunch numbers to diminish the movie's success.

    (BTW - Most studios care a lot more about dollars earned than tickets sold. If they could make a movie that people would pay $100 a ticket for they would be glad to sell a few less tickets in return. It's actually more financially profitable to make more money with fewer screenings.)

    There's a reason all the studios are scrambling to find ways to cash in on the 3D/IMAX bandwagon now that Avatar has proven the outrageous possibilities. They get the numbers game. Now let's see if they can duplicate the content quality. My guess is that Avatar will sit comfortably at the top of the charts - at least until Cameron comes up with something new to unseat it.

    Then all these folks being paid to write articles that try to spin negative angles about the relative success of the movie will probably be getting paid to kiss Avatar's butt in print. I bet they will gladly oblige.

  22. Jacen

    GWTW did not make $198 mil in 1939; that sum represents the total grossed from many re-releases over the subsequent decades. One figure I've seen shows GWTW grossing only $32 mil during its first year of release (which is still a staggering amount when you consider how cheap movie prices were back then and that the Great Depression was not quite over yet). What I wish is that someone would research and tally the number of tickets sold for each of all the major films for the past several decades; that would give us a much more accurate portrait of what the biggest films have been (always acknowledging, of course, that older films will have their numbers inflated due to the benefit of multiple reissues; but at least the fluctuation and inflation of prices would no longer be a distraction).

  23. Melissa

    Intriguing! I often wondered if they adjusted for the extra cost of “gold class” tickets; same screen, but with larger and comfier seats, and a menu to order from (at extra cost, again). Apparently not.

    An Australian Cardinal was worried that Avatar being so greatly-watched meant a return to paganism. It prompted the following observation in an article (although they include reshowings):

    The films that made the most money in Australia:
    1 Avatar (2009) $69 million
    2 Titanic (1997) $58m
    3 Shrek 2 (2004) $50.5m
    4 The Return of the King (2003) $49.5m
    5 Crocodile Dundee (1986) $48m
    6 Fellowship of the Ring (2001) $47.5m
    7 The Dark Knight (2008) $46m
    8 The Two Towers (2002) $46m.

    The films that sold the most tickets in Australia:
    1 The Sound of Music (1965 and later reshowings)
    2 Crocodile Dundee (1986)
    3 Star Wars (1977 and 97)
    4 Gone With The Wind (1939 and reshowings)
    5 Titanic (1997)
    6 E.T (1982)
    7 Dr Zhivago (1966)
    8 Grease (1978 and reshowings).

    (Full article: http://blogs.sunherald.com.au/whoweare/archives/2010/01/the_tribal_mind_49.html)

  24. mh

    >>>>>>>Gone with the Wind made 198 million US in 1939. Would that be more money today? Yes it would. That does not change the fact that it still only made 198 million dollars.

    Actually, it does very much “change the fact.” To see $198 million in 1939 as “only” $198 million is wrong.

    $198 million in 1939 would be equivalent to about $3 billion today. *That* is how you have to look at it if you want an accurate understanding of the buying power of $198 million in 1939.

    >>>>If you did not witness the movie while it was in theaters, you would have never seen it again. EVER.

    Sorry, but wrong again. There were such things as rereleases. Those took place periodically.

    >>>>>Were similar tactics to inflation used in comparing olympic athletes from now to those of 50 years ago it looks even more ridiculous. It is similar to saying, “if this swimmer from 50 years ago had used the same stream-lined suits that the swimmers of today wear, his time would have been 20 seconds faster than the fastest swimmer today.” You just cannot compare some things.

    I agree: *those* things can't be compared. However, when one discusses inflation, one is talking about money's **real** value. For that reason, you not only can but *must* use inflation adjustments when comparing costs/revenues from different eras. Else, your comparisons will be useless.

    Get a salary raise below the inflation rate and you'll see exactly what I'm talking about. You'll be making more money — perhaps you'll even break a record or two — but you won't be any richer. In fact, you'll actually be poorer.

    MGM could buy much more with “only” $198 million back in 1939 than Fox could buy today with $1.3 billion.

  25. buy r4i

    Avatar wasn't the only film to ring in the new year with serious box-office bounty, either. Sherlock Holmes sleuthed out an elementary $38.4 million for second place, a 41 percent drop for $140 million total.

  26. Kimberly

    I think we shouldn't forget that while, yes, the tickets cost more (especially 3D and IMAX), people are more than willing to pay for them.

  27. Dennis

    What difference does it make? Avatar is the top grossing movie of all time now and still counting after only 37 days of release! It took Titanic it's entire run to reach 1.82 Billion. It's not fair to try and take the celebration of out Avatar's success! Make no mistake when the dust settles this movie could make 2.5 Billion plus! Those other movies were great for their time and enjoyed their highest grossing box office title - now let Avatar wear the crown! After all the odds are that someday Avatar will fall to the number 2 spot! OBTW money is money no matter what decade it's acquired!!!

  28. jardon

    no metter the thing are going,we will never give up

  29. Bobby West

    I wish I could read one article where the Avatar gross is mentioned without it being compared to some inflated gross. Gone with the Wind made 198 million US in 1939. Would that be more money today? Yes it would. That does not change the fact that it still only made 198 million dollars. You could argue more ticket sales, but honestly back in 1939 there were no such things as DVDs or television reruns. If you did not witness the movie while it was in theaters, you would have never seen it again. EVER. I am certain that in today's times, had we no technology to steal movies or wait a few months and rent them on DVD, that movie ticket sales would be MUCH higher than they are today.

    Avatar has made 1.843 billion dollars in today's times. That is still 1.843 billion dollars no matter which way you look at it. 100 years from now when ticket prices are $500 a ticket and movies are making 10 billion dollars on average, people are still going to say “Well you know, if you count for inflation, the 1939 Gone with the Wind would have made 3 Trillion dollars.”

    Point being-none of this really matters. I don't think James Cameron is kicking himself for not having released this film in 2030 and making some 2 or 3 billion more than in 2010.

    Were similar tactics to inflation used in comparing olympic athletes from now to those of 50 years ago it looks even more ridiculous. It is similar to saying, “if this swimmer from 50 years ago had used the same stream-lined suits that the swimmers of today wear, his time would have been 20 seconds faster than the fastest swimmer today.” You just cannot compare some things.

  30. sungyubun

    I don't know what's the fuss? AVATAR is the top grossing film since the dawn of human history - period.

    Who cares about adjustments for inflation, extra $$$ for 3D ticket sales etc. etc.

    AVATAR is the film for the 21st Century, I don't care about “Gone With The Winds”, I wasn't even born yet..

    We must give credit when and where credit is due. As far as i am concerned, James Cameron pulled it off! AVATAR is the new champion!

    3 cheers to James Cameron!!!

  31. Adrian

    Avatar is really a nice movie. in 3d it is fantastic. it is worth to watch thrice.

  32. renantech

    Finaly Avatar break the record of the number best seller movie Titanic. Avatar is a great movie another histor made by avatar.

  33. singing teacher

    I'm now here in Asia, Avatar is also doing well in the box office - its been 3 weeks now and Avatar is still being shown on big movie theaters. That was some good movie indeed!

  34. Michelle

    >>>>>>>>>>>>well actually box office mojo also has the chart for adjusted for inflation.. there you can see the chart by number of tickets sold.. it said something like dark knight (74 million) and avatar (72 million) as of saturday.. so this weekend it will pass dark night in tickets sold..

    Eric, Box Office Mojo is a great place for box office info. But that data is incorrect. It's not that Box Office Mojo's base figures are wrong. It's just that they calculate the # of tickets a movie has sold based on average ticket prices for any given year.

    For “Avatar,” it would be $7.35 for both 2009 and 2010. Except that if you hand out $7.35 at the vast majority of movie houses playing “Avatar,” you'll be told: give me another 10 bucks, else out you go.

    That is why in reality “Avatar” has sold *way* fewer tickets than those 72 million.

    I mention in my piece that “average” ticket prices are to be taken very cautiously. It all depends on where — first-run theaters, small-town movie houses, and now 3D/IMAX — a movie made most of its money.

  35. eric

    well actually box office mojo also has the chart for adjusted for inflation.. there you can see the chart by number of tickets sold.. it said something like dark knight (74 million) and avatar (72 million) as of saturday.. so this weekend it will pass dark night in tickets sold..

  36. Michelle

    >>>>>>>>>>>You forget that Dark Knight was also released in IMAX so I don't think Avatar is that far off from matching ticket sales.

    No, I didn't forget that. On Sept. 5, “The Hollywood Reporter” posted that “The Dark Knight” had earned $55 million at IMAX theaters *worldwide*. That's about 6.5% of what the film had grossed up to that time, $925m worldwide.

    According to various sources, between 65-75% of “Avatar's” revenues have come from IMAX and/or 3D screenings, whether domestically or internationally.

    That's why it still has some ways to go before it passes “The Dark Knight” in number of tickets sold.

    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/film/news/e3i0c67f62c8fff28605fd99ded672ed7c4

  37. A

    You forget that Dark Knight was also released in IMAX so I don't think Avatar is that far off from matching ticket sales.

  38. Michelle

    >>>>>If Gone With The Wind were released today instead of 1939, it wouldn't be the top box office of all time. Big, but not that big. … it continued to be rereleased every few years – 1942, 1949 and so on. Actually was released last year in Poland. Today's movies have a quick run and then they are moved to DVD.

    True, today's movies generally have a quick run. GWTW was around for a long time. In fact, I don't believe it was rereleased in 1942. It was probably still playing back then.

    One thing, however, that is *very* important to remember is that movies didn't open in 2,000 or 3,000 or 4,000 screens (to reach the widest possible audience *right away*) in those days.

    A movie like GWTW opened in one or two theaters. And stayed at those two theaters — earning million$$ — for months, sometimes a year. Or longer. Slowly it'd open in other major theaters across the country. And only later would it reach small-town theaters.

    Had GWTW opened in 3,000 theaters back in 1939, it'd probably have made a billion or more then and there.

  39. Nick

    If Gone With The Wind were released today instead of 1939, it wouldn't be the top box office of all time. Big, but not that big. Released in a day with no TV -not to mention no DVD, TiVo, Cable, on demand, etc.- it continued to be rereleased every few years - 1942, 1949 and so on. Actually was released last year in Poland. Today's movies have a quick run and then they are moved to DVD. It is harder to get people to go see a movie again in a few years when they have it sitting on the shelf in their den, on their ipod, on their phone, and anywhere elese you can think of. The only movie in modern times that has drawn that kind of repeat business over years is Star Wars and it wasn't really the same movie. The rerelease was a major budget, major differences, new version. It should count as two movies.

  40. Michelle

    >>>>>It would be nice to see comparisons of both tickets sold in addition to box office takes, when news outlets report on the success (or failure) of a film in these kinds of terms. I think that would put the numbers into a better perspective.

    I totally agree. Outside of North America, countries often report the number of tickets sold. That's a much more accurate way of looking at a film' success **at the box office***. Of course, there have been movies that did moderate or poor business at the box office and later became home video hits.

    >>>>>That being said, I don't view the extra costs associated with 3D/IMAX showings as an unfair advantage for any films that are available in this format. I think the fact that movie-goers are willing to pay extra for 3D/IMAX says something about the public's perceived quality of a film.

    It's only “unfair” in that it makes it seem as if more tickets are being sold — that more people are watching the film. When that's not necessarily true.

    >>>>>I don't look at it any differently than a higher-end consumer product “outselling” a lower-end one. A lower quality, less expensive product can sell more units than a higher quality, more expensive unit, yet the more expensive unit could still have higher sales. At the end of the day, if I were in the business of selling products, I'd opt for the latter.

    So would I. So would — so do — movie moguls. Expect AVATAR 2, THE HANGOVER 3, STAR TREK 4, DISTRICT 10, 2013, TRANSFORMERS 15, etc. The downside is that “small” movies, or movies that don't have the widest possible appeal no longer have a chance at the big studios.

    Independents must fight the fight to finance their projects, no matter how great the cast, the screenplay, the director, etc.

  41. It would be nice to see comparisons of both tickets sold in addition to box office takes, when news outlets report on the success (or failure) of a film in these kinds of terms. I think that would put the numbers into a better perspective.

    That being said, I don't view the extra costs associated with 3D/IMAX showings as an unfair advantage for any films that are available in this format. I think the fact that movie-goers are willing to pay extra for 3D/IMAX says something about the public's perceived quality of a film. I don't look at it any differently than a higher-end consumer product “outselling” a lower-end one. A lower quality, less expensive product can sell more units than a higher quality, more expensive unit, yet the more expensive unit could still have higher sales. At the end of the day, if I were in the business of selling products, I'd opt for the latter.

  42. bigfatshady

    I am surprised you forgot the obligatory, “Yeah, But adjusted for inflation it is only 34th of all time” in regards to Avatar's awesome box office results!

  43. Michelle

    >>>>>>One other factor that makes much older movie attendance difficult to compare is that in the olden days movies had longer runs, in part because there were fewer releases

    I'm not sure which “olden days” you're referring to, but before TV there were many, but many many many more film releases then there are today.

    >>>>>>>>>>>Perhaps this means that rentals/DVD purchases should count (and each rental/purchase should likely count as multiple views.)

    If so, so should television viewings — which might make Gone with the Wind the most-watched film ever. Its first television showing, for example, was a major event watched by tens of millions of people. I doubt it that “Avatar's” initial TV showing will attract that much attention — again, not because “Avatar” is “bad,” but because film-watching has changed in the last three decades. Long before “Avatar” shows up on TV, it'll have been made available on DVD, pay-per-view, etc. etc.

  44. Movie Fan

    One other factor that makes much older movie attendance difficult to compare is that in the olden days movies had longer runs, in part because there were fewer releases and because they could not be seen cheaply and in high quality in the home in short order. Perhaps this means that rentals/DVD purchases should count (and each rental/purchase should likely count as multiple views.)

  45. Michelle

    >>>>You can't realistically compare a film on an inflation adjusted basis alone.

    You didn't read the article. Info on piracy, internet, etc. is in there.

    >>>>34th of all time isnt to bad for only being in release for 33 days!

    No, it isn't. Though “Avatar” would be way — but WAY — further down that list if 3D/IMAX charges were used to figure out the # of tickets sold — instead of “average” ticket prices for the year.

    I've nothing against “Avatar.” That's just a fact. Just like it's a fact that “Avatar” has been out for only a little over a month. It still has plenty of steam left. And who knows? Future big-screen rereleases should add more $$ to its coffers.

  46. staash

    You can't realistically compare a film on an inflation adjusted basis alone. There are too many other factors involved. For instance there were few or any pirated films back then. Also, back in the old days there were not as many other entertainment vehicles like gaming, broadcast sports, and the internet.

  47. bigfatshady

    34th of all time isnt to bad for only being in release for 33 days! This represents basically how may tickets have been sold..I wonder where Star Wars would be on the All Time Inflation Adjusted chart after only its 33 rd day of release..Oh but wait! Star Wars not only was in the theaters for over a year but its has been re-released 4 or 5 times over the last 30 years!! Lets wait and see where Avatar ends up on the Inflation chart(tickets sold) when the movie finally ends in run in the movie houses..probally 6 or 7 months from now…not unheard of remember Batman Begins? It was out for over 7 months at the theaters..and that was just last year.

  48. avatarized

    and you can't just multiple the tickets with price now..because the tickets would'nt sold that much adjusted to the price..you could tell avatar is #34 for tickets sold, but not for income worldwide.. i think that the context.

  49. Michelle

    >>>Can anyone on this blog please explain the importance of using the term “Inflation-Adjusted” when discussing the box office figures for this movie?

    It's blog policy when discussing “all-time highest grossers.” And that's a matter of logic, too. Those who choose to believe the studios' p.r. machine are free to buy into their “record-breaking” hype. Those who'd rather see things put into perspective, would look at inflation-adjusted figures, whether for costs, salaries, or box office. That's what we do here.

    >>>>Second, how often has this metric been applied to measure the success of other movies?

    Elsewhere, I've no idea. Here, whenever discussing “all-time” rankings, no matter the movie. We don't “pick” on “Avatar.”

    >>>>My personal observation is that those who insist that the term “Inflation-Adjusted” is used when discussing box office figures for this movie, tend to be those who predicted that it would be a collasal failure prior to its release.

    Your personal observation is way off the mark as far as my posts are concerned. I've got no stakes for or against “Avatar.” But considering all the ridiculous box-office hype, I — and others writing for this blog — do like to keep things in perspective.

    And I really can't understand why anyone would NOT want to see things in context.

  50. Timothy Stinson

    Can anyone on this blog please explain the importance of using the term “Inflation-Adjusted” when discussing the box office figures for this movie?

    Second, how often has this metric been applied to measure the success of other movies?

    My personal observation is that those who insist that the term “Inflation-Adjusted” is used when discussing box office figures for this movie, tend to be those who predicted that it would be a collasal failure prior to its release.

  51. avatarized

    many factor that determine the succeed of a film..ticket price is just one of them..remember that older film were playing in theater for months even years, so they could sell much more tickets than avatar (one month releases)..plus the quality of the visual effects n camera 3D who deserves the higher ticket price than film from 1980's and 1990's..so it'd be a weak reason to say that avatar is 'only” place the 34th ranking.

    if the older film (that sell much more tickets than avatar) is remaking now, even with 3D, i'm sure they won't make it like avatar..

  52. Jason

    Hooray for inflation-adjusted figures. They're my favorite type of figures.