SUNDAY CENTS: That ‘Avatar’ thing is doing well, eh?

Posted by · 12:01 pm · January 10th, 2010

Avatar*All historical figures cited are adjusted to today’s dollars.

Have you guys heard of this movie “Avatar?” Apparently, seeing as it’s the number one movie for the fourth week in a row and dropped a ridiculous 29% to $48.5 million. First off, it’s the biggest fourth weekend for a film ever, narrowly eclipsing the $45 million of “Titanic.” Its running total of $429 makes it the 24th biggest film of the last 30 years and it’s only been out for 24 days.

Remember how big “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” was? Well, “Avatar” will pass it tomorrow on the all time chart. Remember how ludicrous the grosses for “The Passion of the Christ” were? That’ll get passed on Tuesday.

There’s no overstating the size of this film’s performance, and it’s time to start talking about a $600 million+ finish domestically. Since I was born in 1982, there have only been five films that have made that kind of money: “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial,” “Titanic,” “Return of the Jedi,” “Jurassic Park” and “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.” Somewhere right now, James Cameron is shitting a gold brick.

“Sherlock Holmes” and “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” stuck to the script, each dropping 54% but holding strong in the runner-up spots. Both films should cross $200 million and are the Christmas gifts that keep on giving for their studios.

The top debut of the week was Lionsgate’s “Daybreakers” at fourth with $15 million. You could film vampires sitting around reading Robert Frost and it would be popular these days, but this film was surprisingly well received by critics and features an impressive cast. Don’t expect it to stick around too long but I can’t imagine the budget being more than $40 million, so it should work out in the end.

“Leap Year” stalled out at $9.2 million and sixth place. Hollywood used to try and be clever and find release dates that correlate with their titles (“Friday the 13th” opened on a Friday the 13th!). Now they don’t give a shit. “Is 2010 a leap year? No? Who cares, put it out!…Should we wait a few years to release 2012? No! Release it now!”

In any case, this is only the fourth Amy Adams film to open wide and only the second after “Enchanted” where she had to do most of the heavy lifting. Don’t be surprised if she goes back to sharing top billing in her films from now on.

“Youth in Revolt” took ninth place with $7 million, which isn’t that bad considering its low screen count. It won’t save The Weinstein Company, but it shouldn’t do any harm to Michael Cera’s budding career either. By my calculation, with that face, he still has a good 15 years of playing high schoolers before he has to start worrying about his career.

Nothing else of note really. “Up in the Air” had another decent weekend and passed $50 million, making it the only other Best Picture contender besides “Avatar” playing well at the multiplex while ballots are out. I didn’t get to see anything yet this week but maybe later tonight I’ll get out.

What about you?  Here are the weekend’s top domestic grossers, courtesy of Exhibitor Relations:

Weekend of Friday, January 8, 2010




→ 45 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Box Office · Sunday Cents

45 responses so far

  • 1 1-10-2010 at 12:21 pm

    aaron said...

    i should follow cera’s lead and become an actor. i’ll be 29 next month but still routinely get mistaken for a 19-year-old. but i also have a deep voice, so it’s just some bad tay zonday shit.

  • 2 1-10-2010 at 12:25 pm

    DCist said...

    Isn’t adjusting the figures to 2009 dollars a little misleading? No one’s going to find Titanic’s adjusted total in any record book. Is someone going to be adjusting these things indefinitely each year?

  • 3 1-10-2010 at 12:32 pm

    Bernard said...

    Just FYI I’ve seen the budget on Daybreakers listed at 20 million at boxofficemojo and 21 million on wiki. Should be a nice little profit after overseas and DVD/Blu.

  • 4 1-10-2010 at 12:33 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Its admissions figure would be in a record book (# of tickets sold) and we just convert that to dollars so it’s a monetary figure.

  • 5 1-10-2010 at 12:43 pm

    Loyal said...

    Should cross 500m sometime next Monday thanks to the 4 day holiday weekend.

    600m and Titanic perhaps by Valentine’s Day. 59 days vs 252 days. Not too shabby JC.

  • 6 1-10-2010 at 12:54 pm

    Leone said...

    OMG, no offense but I am so bored of AVATAR box office stories. yes, the movie’s making a lot of money. for goodness sakes, it NEEDS to — they spent (according to IMDB which is probably lower than the truth), $250M on it and that doesn’t include marketing the thing. it should be visually stunning – if you give any filmmaker $250M dollars I”m sure they could come up with something cool. I mean, it’s NOT ALL THAT. I”m more impressed with a film that cost a few million to make and ROCKS IT without spending the national gross of several small countries to do it.

  • 7 1-10-2010 at 1:06 pm

    Tedums_Precious said...

    Every time I see one of your numbers, I want to correct it. Then I remember the whole damn “adjusted” thing. Haha

  • 8 1-10-2010 at 1:08 pm

    Megan said...

    I walked out of Avatar feeling REALLY good about it at the time. The audience I was with applauded at the end, and I applauded with the same amount of vehemence.

    But I start to feel myself backlash against things once the stories are forcibly crammed down my throat.

    I hate overexposure.

    I remember feeling the very same way about Brokeback Mountain back in ’05 or whatever that was, even though it’s a beautiful movie.

    But uh…good for it, I guess. It’s not like any of us are surprised. I honestly had a lot more fun following Dark Knight’s figures.

  • 9 1-10-2010 at 1:09 pm

    Cde. said...

    Easy to say that now, Leone, but just a few weeks ago people were speculating about whether it would become the biggest bomb in history.

  • 10 1-10-2010 at 1:14 pm

    Vito said...

    I finally got around to Crazy Heart. Gotta admit, I was somewhat disappointed. It wasn’t as fresh as I had hoped, and I didn’t think the movie went far enough. Bridges is great, but I thought it would be better. I still want him to win the Oscar. Also, I couldn’t believe Colin Ferrel could sing. I was looking at the credits to see who they had sing for him, but lo and behold, it was him.

  • 11 1-10-2010 at 1:21 pm

    Joel said...

    I saw “Leap Year,” which actually mildly surprised me. Nothing horribly special, but it’s modestly enjoyable. “Daybreakers” was an “I Am Legend” ripoff that I didn’t care for at all.

  • 12 1-10-2010 at 1:28 pm

    Zizo Abul Hawa said...

    Chad, Daybreakers only costed $20 (half what you expected), so I guess it will start making benefits by the end of next week, which is cool I guess.

    And I’m loving Avatar Box Office stories, it is amazing that the most unexpected movie to desthrone Titanic from the #1 movie of all-time is going to make it, we were waiting all this decade, saying “The last Harry Potter will”, “The next Pirates will”, “The new Twilight will”, “King Kong is going to”, “The Return of the King”… and in the end, it was Avatar, when everybody expected it to flop. Anyway, it was a great movie, I don’t care if it makes tons of money, but I love to read about it, and if someone gets bothered by the stories, then I really don’t get why are you reading BO columns…

    Thanks Chad again, for this week column!

  • 13 1-10-2010 at 1:51 pm

    Yogsam said...

    I hate when someone says “you know, i’m bored about AVATAR stories”…why are you reading it in the first place if you’re not interested and YOU KNOW that the movie is kicking butt and making money!!!
    …after that little rant…
    Good job Cameron!! you ARE shitting gold bricks once again!

  • 14 1-10-2010 at 1:51 pm

    Melissa said...

    hmm just like The Dark Knight was supposed to top Titanic, yeah we’ll see.

  • 15 1-10-2010 at 1:52 pm

    Craig said...

    Yeah, I don’t understand how Avatar passing Titanic is the done deal some of you seem to think it is…

  • 16 1-10-2010 at 2:03 pm

    Leone said...

    Sorry to have offended Yogsam – but for the record, I didn’t read the story. Just the headline and scanned it. I’ve seen it all before. I read the first few DOZEN stories with some mild interest – the movie is doing great – no controversy – no more exposition required. Like enough already.

  • 17 1-10-2010 at 2:06 pm

    Al said...

    Considering the grosses include 3D glasses cost, and that nobody seems concerned with reporting Avatar’s gross based solely on ticket profit, I took matters into my own hands.

    75% of US screenings have been in 3D. Divide 430 million by 4 and you get 107.5 million (this is how much the 2D screens made and are irrelevant until later) The remaining 322.5 million was made in 3D screenings. Divide this by 12 (the average cost of 3D screenings because the glasses are included) and you get approximately 26 million (number of tickets sold in 3D screenings) Multiply this by 8, the average cost of a ticket, and you get the grand total of 215 million (what the 3D screenings actually made without the price of glasses.)

    Add the 215 to the 107.5 million we took out at the beginning (the screenings that were 2D and thus only concerned with ticket sales) and the real total Avatar has made in ticket sales alone is 322.5 million. This is a huge number no doubt, but not nearly as huge as the reported gross which includes 3D glasses profits.

  • 18 1-10-2010 at 2:09 pm

    Zizo Abul Hawa said...

    Because the movie is just having ridiculous drops all over the world, this weekend the movie is already the #1 all time grosser in Spain with $60M, in China it opened to $40M in 7 days (while the highest grossing movie ever there is 2012 which made $67M, in France it surpassed $115 this weekend, $90M in Germany, in UK the bad weather is not helping, but the movie made almost $70M, Russia another $65M, Japan $50M, still opening in Italy next weekend… and this weekend internationally it made 5% more than last one, when it was New Years, this week everybody came back to work, and it still came up from $133M last weekend to $145M this one.

    And with Oscars, and people going to see it more than once, and others who are waiting to the fever to calm down (here it’s impossible to get tickets for next week, for example…, you have to buy 10 days in advance)…

    And don’t get me wrong, I loved Avatar, the best movie in 2009 in my opinion, not the best one ever though, but who cares…

  • 19 1-10-2010 at 2:17 pm

    Bob McBob said...

    “District 9” is another Best Picture contender that crossed $100M domestically

  • 20 1-10-2010 at 2:18 pm

    Loyal said...

    I’m just looking at data Chad. I know you’ve been skeptical of the film since before it was released. That’s healthy. But it’s no longer an issue of if it’ll pass Titanic but rather when and by how much.

  • 21 1-10-2010 at 2:23 pm

    Yogsam said...

    @Leone
    oh, don’t worry! i was just saying : )

    did anyone read that article about AVATAR
    making 2 billions worldwide?
    do you think that’s even posible?

    @zizo
    oh gosh!! 115 just in France!!!?

  • 22 1-10-2010 at 2:29 pm

    Mike C said...

    I for one love seeing box office history made even with inflated ticket prices and 3D glasses. We live in a modern world with a million different ways to entertain ourselves, so the differences with historical prices are a wash to me.

    Having plunked down my money twice to see the film, I thank Mr. Cameron for using his big ol’ budget to transport me to another world and put a smile on my face. I love small art house and foriegn films with far superior scripts, but I also have room in my heart to love Avatar. Here’s to Mr. Cameron making another giant film, but doesn’t need 12 years this time!

  • 23 1-10-2010 at 3:08 pm

    JJ said...

    Mike C, my love for Avatar isn’t as great as yours, but I share your overall sentiment completely.

  • 24 1-10-2010 at 3:39 pm

    Ripley said...

    Avatar’s performance is even more crazy considering the other options for today’s moviegoers compared to Titanic’s in 1997. The 3D and IMAX is definitely a factor but that also is impressive, people laying out extra money in such numbers in this economy. Well done JC, changed cinema me thinks.

  • 25 1-10-2010 at 4:06 pm

    Megan said...

    “Well done JC, changed cinema me thinks.”

    I would think that if anything did change, all we’re going to see is more movies using more CGI and inappropriately employing the 3D technology.

    If anything, it will do for cinema what Toy Story (and it kills me to say this because I love it) did for children’s movies–just annihilating the classic approach.

    I enjoy CGI-based flicks and the use of 3D every so often; it can be a good thing to a degree.

    I just have this awful sinking feeling that if Avatar did have any impact on the industry, we’re just going to see half-baked attempts at replicating what it did. If any sort of revolution happens, it will get out of hand, and quickly.

  • 26 1-10-2010 at 5:53 pm

    AmericanRequiem said...

    and chad said the blind side would make more money..

  • 27 1-10-2010 at 6:18 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    ha. that’s right, I did. (loosens collar)

  • 28 1-10-2010 at 6:57 pm

    Glenn said...

    “Its admissions figure would be in a record book (# of tickets sold) and we just convert that to dollars so it’s a monetary figure.”

    Since nobody can know how many tickets were sold specifically that is an even more flawed logic than pure “adjusted for inflation” numbers.

    In regards to “Avatar”, it officially became the highest grossing film of all time here in Australia some time on Friday, which is very impressive since it look less than four weeks to do so.

    In regards to “Daybreakers”, the budget has indeed been referred to as $20mil. Considering it’s an Aussie production (co-produced, since they used some American money) I’m happy it did so well. I like knowing that $15mil worth of Americans have seen the immaculate goddess Claudia Karvan kick vampire arse.

  • 29 1-10-2010 at 6:58 pm

    Al said...

    Why is it exactly that we shouldn’t ignore the 3D glasses? Those profits have absolutely nothing to do with ticket sales or total audience attendance.

  • 30 1-10-2010 at 7:39 pm

    Adjuster said...

    Yes, something like a third of the movie’s profits are just from the 3-D premium, aren’t they? So what is the adjusted gross, minus the 3-D spectacle?

  • 31 1-10-2010 at 8:07 pm

    AmericanRequiem said...

    the fact that people are willing to pay more for 3d should be a plus, not a minus

    and ill forget about it chad, in time..

    and all 5 movies you mentioned were better this one, give or take a phantom mence

    anyone else think that James Cameron would be a good dirctor to finish peter jackons and steven speilbergs TINTIN trilogy?

  • 32 1-10-2010 at 8:16 pm

    Al said...

    It may be a plus but that doesn’t mean we should take into account profits that aren’t specifically about the ticket sales. (which is what we are comparing here) Not just that, but in my case, I was forced to pay for glasses even though I saved mine from a previous flick.

    Its just not kosher.

  • 33 1-10-2010 at 8:44 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Except prices vary from theater to theater, so your numbers will never be accurate. I paid $8.50 for the 3D movie, not $12. And at my theater a normal matinee showing for a non-3D film is the same exact price after 1:00 pm.

  • 34 1-10-2010 at 9:03 pm

    Ben M. said...

    Avatar’s performance really is amazing, even with Dark Knight it didn’t feel like the audience driven phenomenon that Avatar does.

    I caught Youth in Revolt and Lovely Bones this weekend, Youth was a fun, if slight, comedy; while, sadly, Lovely Bones really is quite bad and deserves the negative buzz.

  • 35 1-10-2010 at 11:58 pm

    Glenn said...

    Al, a lot of cinemas give you a discount of a dollar or two on 3D tickets if you bring back your glasses. You got a bit jipped.

  • 36 1-11-2010 at 2:18 am

    Andrew2 said...

    Yes, we need another Avatar story. It is really starved of attention at the moment. How about more coverage of the little films that cant afford to buy expensive publicity

  • 37 1-11-2010 at 3:26 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Andrew, it’s a weekly box-office column. How do you NOT make Avatar the subject?

  • 38 1-11-2010 at 3:36 am

    Ziyad Abul Hawa said...

    And again, nobody is forcing you to read anything!

  • 39 1-11-2010 at 6:03 am

    frank said...

    I was just commeting on this 3d glasses thing over on Hollywood-elsewhere. Nice work, Al.

    The fact that, in glasses sales alone, this film will make well over 100 million in glasses is just unbelievable. It’s also a slightly unfair advantage. I’m not trying to take anything away from Avatar but this does inflate the numbers.

    Take, for instance, Transformers 2. It made over 400 million and sold about 56 million tickets. If it had been in 3d, those nubmers would be inflated by $84 million (assuming 3/4 see it in 3d as they have with Avatar). That doesn’t even include the number of people that may have seen it twice due to a 3d effect of sorts (can’t see it in 3d so they see it in 2d so as to see it in the opening weeks only to subsequently go see it again in 3d later on because it’s supposedly awesome). It seems almost safe to assume that movie would be well over $500 million if it had 3d.

    Also, I’m pretty pissed to read Al’s comment that they made him buy the glasses even tohugh he had his own pair. Looking forward, that’s pretty messed up, especially if 3d is the wave of the future. As if movie’s don’t cost enough, I’m going to now have to chalk over another $2 per ticket every time I go to the theater with my family even if I have 3d glasses? It’s bullshit.

  • 40 1-11-2010 at 6:27 am

    frank said...

    Also, Al, not to be creepy, but what city do you live in? I’m curious to know what theater made you buy new 3d glasses despite having your own.

  • 41 1-11-2010 at 6:42 am

    Brian said...

    To say that the extra charge is just for renting the glasses is misleading. The charge is for the technology of the film, and we’re willing to pay because the experience is worth it.

  • 42 1-11-2010 at 6:46 am

    Ben M. said...

    When the new digital 3D first started with films like Monster House they let me keep the glasses and they charged several dollars extra a ticket. Since this summer, all the 3D films I’ve seen (at different theatres) made me return the glasses and I believe charged $2 extra a ticket, maybe $2.50 at one theatre; in NYC I paid $14.50 when I saw Avatar in a digital 3D theatre vs. $12.50 normal admission, and $15.50 at an Imax theatre- I’m not sure but I believe that was the same price the Imax charged for 2D films.

  • 43 1-11-2010 at 6:50 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    If it’s the “experience” we’re paying for, I’d rather give extra money to more modest films that I got more out of. They could use the cash, after all!

  • 44 1-11-2010 at 9:19 am

    Al said...

    40, I hail from a New Jersey suburb close to New York City, it was a Clearview Cinema chain that made me pay, I knew I was ripped off, but they gave me no other choice.

    In regards to what SpeakingEnglish said I recognize that its not always the same thats why I used averages. 12 is the average for 3D which means even though you paid less, others paid more. Same with ticket prices, 8 dollars is the national average.

  • 45 1-11-2010 at 11:54 am

    TWC said...

    OK correct me if I’m wrong, but according to the charts avatar hasn’t been keeping up with the dark knight as far as gross per day goes. And if you take into consideration prices have been inflated since TDK and Avatar has 3-D boosting it’s numers…..I won’t be shocked to see avatar get close to TDK but I will be shocked if it can even touch Titanic.