Avatar box office: To surpass Titanic in domestic market – but not in ticket sales
Jan. 31 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. CCH Pounder. Giovanni Ribisi. Dileep Rao. Wes Studi.
Three-time Academy Award nominee Sigourney Weaver (Best Actress for James Cameron’s Aliens, 1986, and Michael Apted’s Gorillas in the Mist, 1988; Best Supporting Actress for Mike Nichols’ Working Girl, 1988).
Joel David Moore. Matt Gerald. Sean Patrick Murphy. Sean Anthony Moran. Michelle Rodriguez. Laz Alonso.
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.
International market lifts Avatar
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.
Jan. 29: 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 …
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
‘Avatar’ surpasses The Dark Knight domestic box office – but not in ticket sales
Jan. 24 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.
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.
Avatar now officially third biggest domestic blockbuster
Jan. 19 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.
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.
‘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.
‘Avatar’ box office gross to surpass ‘Star Wars’ – or no. 87 (or lower) on all-time domestic box office chart?
Jan. 10 update: Starring Sam Worthington, James Cameron’s Avatar box office has increased by an estimated $48.5 million over the weekend (Jan. 8–10), a relatively modest 29 percent drop from a week ago – the quite busy New Year’s 2010 weekend.
Avatar‘s average per theater was an outstanding $14,173. Among the weekend’s Top Twelve films, the nearest (distant) competitor was Michael and Peter Spierig’s horror thriller Daybreakers, with $5,945 on its debut weekend.
Avatar‘s total domestic gross to date stands at $429 million. The 3D fantasy spectacle is now the seventh biggest blockbuster ever at the domestic box office (not taking inflation into account), slightly ahead of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest ($423.3 million) and slightly behind Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace ($431 million).
By next Friday, Avatar will likely be no. 4, right behind George Lucas’ original Star Wars, which has to date raked in $460.9 million.
Worldwide (not adjusted for inflation or currency fluctuations), Avatar remains in the no. 2 slot, with $1.331 billion – and quite some ways behind James Cameron’s own Titanic. The Leonardo DiCaprio-Kate Winslet 2D, non-IMAX’ed-out hit grossed $1.842 billion back in 1998.
‘Avatar’ breaks IMAX box office record, passes $100 million milestone
To date, Avatar‘s IMAX screenings have grossed about $68 million in the U.S. and Canada, in addition to $33 million overseas, thus becoming the first IMAX presentation to cross the $100 million mark according to Screen Daily.
The previous record-holder in the large screen format was Robert Zemeckis’ 2004 motion-capture The Polar Express, featuring Tom Hanks and which took in $71 million.
Although it has been accused of being racist and paganistic, anti-American and pro-smoking, Avatar has been shortlisted by various Hollywood guilds and unions. Among them: the American Cinema Editors, the American Society of Cinematographers, the Art Directors Guild, the WGA, the DGA, and the PGA.
Avatar is also in the running for the 2010 Golden Globe in the Best Motion Picture Drama category. And finally, it’ll surely be among the top nominees when the Academy Award nominations are announced on Feb. 2.
‘Avatar’ box office: ‘Shrek 2’ left behind
Jan. 14 update: Avatar pulled in another $4.7 million on Wednesday, Jan. 13. After 27 days out, James Cameron’s ecologically conscious sci-fi/fantasy adventure starring Sam Worthington has taken in a monumental (it’s hard to keep coming up with different grandiose adjectives) $445.7 million at the domestic box office.
Having just passed Shrek 2, Avatar is now no. 4 on the all-time domestic box office chart (not adjusted for inflation or higher 3D/IMAX ticket prices to accurately reflect ticket sales).
Cameron’s movie will surely be no. 3 by next Monday, ahead of George Lucas’ original Stars Wars ($460 million) while still trailing Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight and Cameron’s own Titanic.
‘Avatar’ no. 87 on the all-time domestic box office chart?
Before returning to this weekend’s domestic box office figures, here’s a previous segment on the – inflation-adjusted – Avatar box office phenomenon.
Fri., Jan. 8, ’10: Picture Avatar in the no. 87 slot on the all-time domestic box office chart. That doesn’t sound quite right, does it? But then again…
With an estimated $381.1 million adjusted for inflation,* Avatar is found at the relatively modest 87th spot on Box Office Mojo’s chart of the all-time highest-grossing movies in the U.S. and Canada.
If higher 3D/IMAX ticket prices were factored in, Avatar would be found quite a bit further down the list in number of tickets sold – which happens to be the true measure of a film’s big-screen popularity.
* Adjusted to an estimated early 2010 average ticket price of $7.35 as provided by the National Association of Theater Owners.
Gone with the Wind still tops
Unsurprisingly, topping the all-time domestic box office list is 1939 multiple Oscar winner Gone with the Wind, starring Best Actress winner Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Olivia de Havilland, and Leslie Howard.
Victor Fleming directed (most of) the mammoth David O. Selznick production distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Estimated adjusted domestic gross (including rereleases): $1.485 billion.
The other top six films on the inflation-adjusted domestic chart are:
- Star Wars (1977) with $1.31 billion.
Director: George Lucas.
Cast: Mark Hamill. Carrie Fisher. Harrison Ford. Alec Guinness. Peter Cushing.
Voice: James Earl Jones.
- The Sound of Music (1965) with $1.05 billion.
Director: Robert Wise.
Cast: Julie Andrews. Christopher Plummer. Eleanor Parker.
- E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) with $1.04 billion.
Director: Steven Spielberg.
Cast: Henry Thomas. Dee Wallace. Drew Barrymore. Peter Coyote.
- The Ten Commandments (1956) with $962 million.
Director: Cecil B. DeMille.
Cast: Charlton Heston. Yul Brynner. Anne Baxter. Yvonne De Carlo. Edward G. Robinson. John Derek. Debra Paget.
- Titanic (1997) with $943 million.
Director: James Cameron.
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio. Kate Winslet. Gloria Stuart. Bill Paxton.
Rounding out the Top Ten on the inflation-adjusted all-time domestic box office chart are:
- Jaws (1975).
Director: Steven Spielberg.
Cast: Roy Scheider. Robert Shaw. Richard Dreyfuss.
- Doctor Zhivago (1965).
Director: David Lean.
Cast: Omar Sharif. Julie Christie. Rod Steiger. Tom Courtenay. Alec Guinness. Geraldine Chaplin. Rita Tushingham.
- The Exorcist (1973).
Director: William Friedkin.
Cast: Ellen Burstyn. Max von Sydow. Linda Blair. Jason Miller.
Voice: Mercedes McCambridge.
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937).
Director: David Hand, Ben Sharpsteen, and others.
Voice Cast: Adriana Caselotti. Billy Gilbert. Otis Harlan. Lucille La Verne.
‘Ben-Hur’ & ‘Love Story’ ahead of ‘Avatar’
Others movies ahead of Avatar on the inflation-adjusted domestic box office chart include:
- William Wyler’s Ben-Hur (1959).
- Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather (1972).
- Ivan Reitman’s Ghostbusters (1984).
- Arthur Hiller’s Love Story (1970).
- George Lucas’ American Graffiti (1974).
- Gore Verbinski’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006).
- George Cukor’s My Fair Lady (1964).
- Michael Bay’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009).
‘Avatar’ box office to surpass … ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’
But hey, if things continue as they are Avatar will be no. 85 by tomorrow, ahead of two Robin Williams hits of the 1990s: Aladdin (Williams provided Genie’s voice) and Mrs. Doubtfire. James Cameron’s Pandora-set fantasy has just passed both the Patrick Swayze-Demi Moore romantic fantasy Ghost (1980) and another big-budget David O. Selznick production, Duel in the Sun (1946), starring Jennifer Jones, Gregory Peck, and Joseph Cotten.
And if it adds another $50 million this weekend (Jan. 8–10), Avatar may jump to no. 59 by Monday, ahead of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
Admittedly, those types of statistics can be tricky as you don’t have the actual number of tickets sold per film. Even so, they do provide a more honest representation of a film’s popularity at the box office. (See further below the comparison between Avatar and Titanic at the Spanish box office.)
On the other hand, the fact that television, personal computers, DVDs, and/or pay-per-view options weren’t around back when all-time winner Gone with the Wind – and other blockbusters – came out, should be considered as well.
Also, bear in mind that Gone with the Wind earned millions more in the late 1960s, in addition to other revivals as recent as the early 2000s.
Previous Jan. 10 post
Following an estimated $48.5 million take over the weekend, the total gross of James Cameron’s Avatar currently stands at $429 million. The sci-fi spectacle is now the seventh biggest blockbuster ever at the domestic box office (not taking inflation or higher 3D/IMAX ticket prices into account), slightly ahead of the Johnny Depp vehicle Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest ($423.3m) and slightly behind George Lucas’ Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace ($431m). By next Friday, Avatar will likely be #4, right behind Lucas’ 1977 Star Wars ($460.9m).
Now, things change quite a bit when inflation is added to the box office mix, even without considering Avatar‘s 3D/IMAX premium surcharges – and those can add quite a bit to the cost of a movie ticket. As of Sunday, Box Office Mojo estimates that Avatar is #58 in the all-time domestic box office chart adjusted for inflation. The state-of-the-art 3D epic is slightly ahead of Back to the Future (1985) and slightly behind Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005).
If Avatar adds another $20-$25 million by Friday, as it quite likely will, it’ll land on that list’s 50th spot – right behind a 2D, black-and-white movie made in 1945 by a studio (RKO) that no longer exists, The Bells of St. Mary’s, with state-of-the-art special effects consisting of Bing Crosby’s vocal cords and Ingrid Bergman’s Swedish accent.
Some of the movies Avatar will have passed: Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ (2004), Cecil B. DeMille’s The Greatest Show on Earth (1952), George Cukor’s musical My Fair Lady (1964), Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man 2 (2004), the Paul Newman-Steve McQueen disaster melodrama The Towering Inferno (1974), and Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003).
Spanish box office: ‘Avatar’ both ahead and behind ‘Titanic’
According to the Spanish site Tio Oscar, in its fourth week out Avatar has earned 4.59 million euros at the Spanish box office. Its total in that country is 39.94 million euros (US$57 million) vs. 38.06 million ($54.3 million, current exchange rate) for Titanic.
Avatar, however, still has a long way to go in order to surpass Titanic‘s record in terms of number of tickets sold. While the previous James Cameron epic sold 10.8 million tickets, Avatar has sold “only” 5.2 million to date.
It’s expected that Avatar will eventually sell more than 8 million tickets and gross about 60 million euros in Spain. If so, it’ll far surpass Titanic in 2010 grosses, but it’ll trail Titanic by a wide margin in number of tickets sold.
And that helps to explain why Hollywood studios choose to divulge only box office grosses – not the actual number of tickets sold. That way, headline-friendly records can be broken just about every year. (See headline below.)
‘Avatar’ breaks records in Australia
Elsewhere in the world, Australia to be exact, Avatar has broken box office records (of sorts) as well. According to the Melbourne Herald Sun, James Cameron’s 3D sci-fi adventure has become the biggest hit ever at the Australian box office – if one chooses to ignore inflation (and, in terms of actual ticket sales, 3D/IMAX surcharges).
Starring the English-born, Perth-raised Sam Worthington, Avatar took in AUD$8.3 million over the weekend, lifting its cume to AUD$63.2 million (US$57.7 million).
The previous record holder, Titanic, had grossed AUD$57.6 million ($52.6 million, current exchange rate) in 1998. More than 75 percent of Avatar‘s Australian earnings have come from 3D screenings.
‘Avatar’ to surpass ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’
Thu., Jan. 7: James Cameron’s 3D fantasy epic Avatar earned another $6.9 million at the U.S. and Canada box office on Wednesday, Jan. 6. To date, Avatar has earned $374.4 million domestically. It’s now the 12th highest-grossing movie of all time – if one chooses to ignore inflation.
When Thursday figures are added in, Avatar will have overtaken Peter Jackson’s 2003 Best Picture Oscar winner The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King ($377 million) and perhaps even Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith ($380.2 million).
Internationally, Avatar is the no. 2 movie, with $1.13 billion. About two-thirds of its box office take has been generated overseas, partly thanks to the low value of the U.S. dollar.
James Cameron’s disaster epic Titanic is no. 1, with $1.84 billion – and will likely remain in that position for quite a while.
‘Avatar’ to surpass ‘The Passion of the Christ,’ ‘Spider-Man 2’
Wed., Jan. 6: Avatar continues to exercise – by far – the strongest pull at the domestic box office in early 2010. On Tuesday, Jan. 5, James Cameron’s fantasy adventure scored another $7.3 million. Avatar‘s total domestic gross currently stands at $367.5 million.
Partly thanks to inflation and 3D/IMAX premium surcharges, Avatar is now no. 14 among the all-time highest-grossing movies in the U.S. and Canada.
By the time Wednesday’s figures are added to its total, Avatar will likely be no. 12, surpassing both Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2.
If things continue as they are, Avatar will likely be no. 10 by Friday.
Oscar history-maker Sigourney Weaver
- Best Actress for James Cameron’s Aliens (1986).
- Best Actress for Michael Apted’s Gorillas in the Mist (1988).
- Best Supporting Actress for Mike Nichols’ Working Girl (1988).
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.
Zoe Saldana Avatar image: WETA | 20th Century Fox.
Mel Gibson Edge of Darkness image: Warner Bros.
Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh Gone with the Wind image: MGM.
Sam Worthington Avatar image: Mark Fellman | 20th Century Fox.