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2010 Box Office: Above $10 Billion Mark Despite Marked Attendance Drop

Avatar Sigourney WeaverAvatar with Sigourney Weaver: 20th Century Fox’s late 2009 release was 2010’s biggest box office hit.
  • 2010 box office: For the second year in a row, the domestic market has passed the $10 billion mark despite the inconvenient fact that attendance is actually down. Ironically, the year’s biggest blockbuster was a 2009 release: James Cameron’s futuristic fantasy adventure Avatar.

2010 box office: Attendance is markedly down, but domestic receipts – boosted by ticket-price increases and 3D/IMAX surcharges – still topped the $10 billion mark

Thanks to higher ticket prices and loads of costlier IMAX and 3D presentations, the North American (U.S. and Canada only) box office will finish the year above the $10 billion mark.

In 2009, domestic revenues reached $10.6 billion; this year, they should reach a slightly more modest $10.556 billion according to Hollywood.com. (Update: Final figures at boxofficemojo.com has 2010’s box office total at $5.585 billion.)

Attendance, however, is down 5.4 percent from last year – the biggest drop-off rate since 2005. In fact, despite the seemingly rosy box office dollar figures, 2010 will end up as the second-least-attended year of the early 21st century. (Check out the de facto biggest box office year ever & the second biggest box office year ever.)

Distributed by 20th Century Fox, James Cameron’s futuristic fantasy adventure Avatar, an environmentally conscious late 2009 release starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and three-time Oscar nominee Sigourney Weaver (Aliens, 1986; etc.), was 2010’s top hit, grossing $466.1 million (including its unsuccessful late summer rerelease).

Top Ten movies of 2010

Avatar was followed by the nine titles listed below. These are movies that earned more than $200 million in the domestic market during the 2010 calendar year.

All but three of the $200+ million blockbusters – Eclipse, Inception, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 – were 3D-surcharge-enhanced releases. Besides, every title was shown at dozens (in some cases, hundreds) of more expensive IMAX theaters.


“2010 Box Office: Above $10 Billion Mark” endnotes

Unless otherwise noted, “2010 Box Office: $10 Billion Mark Passed Once Again Despite Marked Attendance Drop” box office information via boxofficemojo.com.

Bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take. However, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.

Sigourney Weaver Avatar movie image: Weta | 20th Century Fox.

“2010 Box Office: Above $10 Billion Mark Despite Marked Attendance Drop” last updated in November 2022.

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