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Posted on January 3, 2010 | tags


Culture: Could Avatar make a Titanic-type run? Let’s compare numbers.

  • Avatar is looking good in its third weekend, dipping just 9% from last week. Not bad for a movie that had a relatively modest launch for a blockbuster. The secret to its success? The same as “Titanic” – staying power. But even if James Cameron’s latest can’t keep up, his trump card might be an even bigger deal.
  • Titanic’s track record:
  • $1.8 billion total lifetime run – in 1998 money (holy crap)
  • $200 million budget for what was expected to be a huge bomb
  • $600 million in domestic grosses – in 1998 money! Holy crap!
  • $28.6M Titanic’s first-weekend box office take – decent, not spectacular
  • $35.5M Titanic’s second-weekend take – it went up by an astonishing 23.8%
  • $36M Titanic’s biggest week, which didn’t come until week six, by the way source
  • How Avatar’s catching up:
  • $1 billion worldwide already – in just three weeks!
  • $280 million the most likely budget for “Avatar”; totals have varied as widely as $250 million and $500 million
  • $150 million has been spent on marketing the movie alone, which Fox is taking on the cost of
  • $77M Avatar’s first-weekend box office take; it was hurt by snow
  • $75M Avatar’s second-weekend take – down only 1.8%
  • $352M Avatar’s domestic gross after a $68 million third weekend source
  • The 3D wildcard:
  • $3-5 the markup the 3D adds to ticket prices source
  • Big investment Cameron’s film took years to build because of the fact that the technology had to come first, both for filming and in the theater. Cameron paid to build the technology himself along with a bunch of investors.
  • Residual effect Fortunately for Cameron, he can sell the cameras to other filmmakers. “Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D” has already used it. Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson’s “The Adventures of Tintin” soon will.
  • Cash for conversions Even better for studios, the technology is relatively easy to build into older films. For $30 million, a popular hit like, say, “Titanic,” can have a brand new life in 3D. It’s like a money machine for Hollywood. source
  • Will it beat “Titanic”?
  • Before inflation, probably. After, it depends. It’s probably not likely that the movie will hold up sixteen straight weeks at No. 1 like Titanic, but it’ll have a good shot of holding on tight thanks to the fact that it’s going to be in IMAX (where it’s made $66 million already) for months. But at the very least, it’s looking like it has more staying power than “The Dark Knight,” the biggest hit of the naughts. Well, before “Avatar.”