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Tuesday
Jan052010

AVATAR likely to dethrone TITANIC in worldwide box office

By the end of this week, Avatar will surpass Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Lord of the Rings: Return of the King to become the #2 worldwide highest grossing movie of all time. It's going to happen, so make peace with it. As of Sunday, Return of the King, the current #2, is less than $100 million ahead of Avatar. It sits at $1.11 billion in sales, compared to Avatar's $1.02 billion.

Honestly, by the end of today (Tuesday) or tomorrow, Avatar could be #2. The big question: can it dethrone Titanic (another Cameron movie). Titanic is the #1 movie of all time with $1.84 billion in worldwide ticket sales. I think so, and here's why.

Week-on-week, Avatar has been out grossing Titanic in the U.S. by big margins. Here's a chart on Box Office Mojo that compares the two, day by day. 

U.S. Box Office

Week 1

  • Avatar - $137,094,001
  • Titanic - $52,969,336

Week 2

  • Avatar - $146,530,209
  • Titanic - $71,183,357

What's interesting is how domestic numbers broadly tie to worldwide box office, at least with Cameron. Titanic ended its run at $600 million domestically and $1.84 worldwide. The domestic numbers were about 1/3 of worldwide gross. When Avatar hit $1 billion worldwide, it was sitting almost perfectly at $333 million in the U.S., or 1/3 of it's worldwide haul. So if Avatar surpasses $600 million in the U.S., and it could, it's worldwide numbers may correspond, bringing it past $1.8 billion. It may very well become the #1 movie of all time.

It took Titanic 44 days to reach $300 million domestically and more than 20 weeks to eventually reach its total haul of $600 million here in the U.S. It set a record for being #1 at the box office 15 weeks in a row, among other records.

Avatar reached $300 million domestically in only 15 days and currently sits at $352 million after only 17 days. If it continues to make another $15 or so million each day through Thursday, we're looking at another $60 million grossed before it's 4th weekend, where it should also nab at least $60 million (educated guess). At that rate, the film will pass $500 million next week. It should be able to squeeze out another $100 million or more in the weeks to come, at least tying Titanic.

What does this mean? Well, not much. It could be pure coincidence, and I am no math major. There are many reasons why Avatar is grossing so much faster than Titanic. Ticket prices are higher than they were 12 years ago, 3D ticket prices are even more expensive, IMAX ticket prices are more expensive yet, social networking gets the word out faster, people know Avatar comes from the man who made Titanic...etc. 

If we want to cut down Avatar's success, we can find ways to do so, but there's really no point. None of these factors really matter because the signs by which history judges box office success are $$$, not the number of tickets sold, though the latter would be a much more useful way to look at it. And no matter which way you look at it, we're witnessing history. 

Here is a brief comparison of the Avatar to Titanic. All of the articles I've written about Avatar can be found here

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