02 January 2010

AVATAR: Worldwide Numerology (Part I)

James Cameron's newest achievement, Avatar, was not tracking well with the comic book movie crowd. Turn the calendar back not two months, and that evidence can be found everywhere, from the columns of online movie critics to popular sci-fi forums  and all the  genre-catering fan-sites in between.   

Despite Cameron's past cinematic successes - most notably Titanic, which took in more than $1.8 billion at the worldwide box office after its release in 1997 - otherwise SFX--hungry fans were showing little interest in Avatar -- and even worse, the media had already begun to write the film's obituary six weeks before its premiere.  Several stories focused on Avatar's biggest - and most dangerous - looming question:  Can  20th Century Fox make money on a film based on an original, unfamiliar story, with no Hollywood superstars, a vanishing DVD market, and a price tag approaching $500 million?   

Hit the Holiday Season fast-forward, and while some questions still remain, all reports of Avatar's demise have been proved extremely premature.  Lead by Avatar,  Christmas weekend box office sales totaled  a record-setting $278 million overall.  Avatar, in its second week, contributed $75 million to the X-Mas jackpot, with newly-opened Sherlock Holmes adding just over $64.  Fox's Alvin and the Chipmunks sequel, which the studio had positioned as a financial safety-cushion for Avatar should it fail, actually came in third, earning Fox another $50 million.  And as of last weekend, Avatar's 15-day total has surpassed $300 million domestically; worldwide, the film has now earned over $620 million

Closer to the hearts of superhero movie lovers, Avatar's first weekend haul of $75.6 million narrowly surpassed Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, which earned $75.2 million the first weekend it opened in July, 2008.  Avatar's well on-track to unseat another superhero's record this weekend, too:  Spider-Man's $45 million weekend earnings  after its third week of release.  As of this blogging, Box Office Mojo reports that Avatar's Friday proceeds were $25.2 million.  All we can say is, Batman's got every right to be surprised.

Instead of just dumping Avatar's facts and figures into this blog, our hope is to offer a little insight into this movies astronomical performance.  For example, Avatar's earned even more money in India than it has domestically -- in its first two weeks, the take-home pay was $560 million.    

Look for our analysis next week, dabblers.  Meanwhile, we're calling on all of you to help us out. What are your thoughts about Avatar's success? Where does the hype and over-the-top ticket sales come from?  If you've seen the movie, did you like it? How would you rank it among your all-time faves? Does it even make the list?  And would you give this movie an Academy Award for Best Picture?  Write in, let us hear from you with your Back Issues! Thanks, everyone!

No comments: