All-Time Big Kahuna

Avatar will finish first this weekend with an estimated $30 million, which will be nearly double what Mel Gibson‘s second-place Edge of Darkness is expecting to earn (i.e., $16 million) by Sunday night. The reputedly atrocious When in Rome will finish third with a projected $12,300,000.

James Cameron‘s left-wing sci-fi allegory will have something like $594,472,000 in the bag by Sunday night. Domestically, I mean. It will overtake Titanic as the all-time highest domestic grosser sometime before next Friday. I failed to take note due to Sundance rigors that it edged past Titanic‘s worldwide total ($1,843,201,268) on Monday, 1.25.

  • Steven Kar

    30 mil is pushing it. I think AVATAR will do between 26-29 based on its 7.5 mil Friday.

    Will be quite exciting seeing it reach the 700 mil mark.

  • Steven Kar

    A 2.5 bil WW total is a possibility now.

    By the way, apparently China will be bringing back the movie to a lot of its 2D screens.

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    Clearly the anti-authority, individualist message of Avatar resonates with Scott Brown voters nationwide.

  • Phreaker

    Not adjusted for inflation, of course. It’s still way down on the list for that. It should easily topple Titanic.

  • Flash Gordon

    Maybe the curtain has fallen on Gibson and we can add him to the “over” list. At least until Lethal Weapon 5 comes out in summer 2011.

  • Ray

    Money justifies everything.

  • George Prager
  • Ponderer

    “Not adjusted for inflation, of course. It’s still way down on the list for that.”

    I still don’t get this. Doesn’t the total audience count, and if so, shouldn’t that include figures adjusted for video? I just don’t see how you can compare one movie that had 100% of its audience in a movie theater with a modern one, which will see maybe 40% that way.

  • googs

    Darkness would have pulled 30 million if Avatar had bombed back in December.

  • Phreaker

    Ponderer, they’re not talking about video at all, or cable or whatever – they’re talking about bodies who actually showed up at the movies and paid money. Gone with the Wind is still the biggest of these – meaning, the most people turned out to see it.

  • Phreaker

    And also, only talking about domestic take here, not international.

  • Ponderer

    “Ponderer, they’re not talking about video at all, or cable or whatever – they’re talking about bodies who actually showed up at the movies and paid money.”

    That’s my point. How can you compare something where the ONLY way to see it was in a theater, as opposed to now, when there are three or four totally viable ways to see a movie? Don’t the people who paid $20-$30 for a video count?

    I was there when Star Wars came out, and the only way to see it was in a theater. I was nine years old and I saw it seven times. I wouldn’t have if I knew I could’ve bought some type of tape or disc. That’s why it’s a ridiculous apples and oranges comparison.

    Count EVERYTHING or don’t make the comparison at all.

  • drbob

    I agree with Ponderer. Besides the points he made, movies released before the advent of home video frequently were re-released to theaters multiple times. Gone with the Wind did not make all of its money in 1939 – a good portion of its gross was made throughout the time period from 1939 into the 1970’s.

  • Mark

    Truth is no one knows the proper inflated numbers; Boxofficemojo definitely doesn’t. Numerous pictures had the opportunity to beat Titanic in the last 12 years, and Avatar doubled the best of them. On the domestic tix sold list, it still has a chance to be 2nd only to Titanic over the last 25 years. So give it due. why is there always a poster trying to put an asterisk on it?

  • Noah Cross

    Mark – With that asterisk remark, are you suggesting Cameron used steroids?

  • bfm

    Ponderer, I think there’s a certain age at which anyone will see a movie that they love several times, regardless of whether it’s eventually going to be available on DVD or not. It’s easy to find stories about people seeing Titanic 10 times or more. The Twilight fans boast about seeing the movie multiple times. Even Transformers got some people going back 4-5 times.

  • DeeZee

    Ponderer: It’s fair enough, when you consider that Star Wars never had its box office artificially inflated by 3-d ticket sales…

    Noah: No, just higher ticket prices.

  • dogcatcher

    Adjusted for inflation, DeeZee is only the second biggest douchebag of all time.

  • Gordon27

    “when you consider that Star Wars never had its box office artificially inflated by 3-d ticket sales”

    By “artificial”, you’re saying that it’s not actual money that actual moviegoers are paying for a ticket?

  • DeeZee

    No, I’m saying they’re paying for the format the movie’s presented in, rather than for the actual content. It’s sort of like how Digital Bits tries to fudge Blu-Ray and HDTV sales to be more than they actually are, when they also generally cost more than their regular video counterparts and actually only representing a fraction of the home video market as a whole. Likewise, Avatar only looks good in respect to its current rank, but as people have noted, inflation only puts it at #26 of all time.

  • DeeZee
  • Phreaker

    It is not surprising that both Titanic and Avatar have made this much money – people will shell out for traditional (cliched) storytelling and they will shell out to see the special effects that no one has ever seen. Cameron is really smart about that. Both films are visually dazzling and both films have terrible scripts. Most people in the world, as has been proven time and time again, don’t really care about good writing, thus, Avatar will be king of the world and Pandora. Men are especially thrilled with this idea – it’s like World’s Biggest Cock on Display! See the World’s Biggest Hard Cock!

  • gradystiles
  • BoomerSooner

    DZ, just shut the fuck up.

  • Gordon27

    “No, I’m saying they’re paying for the format the movie’s presented in, rather than for the actual content.”

    Ah, so you’re splitting hairs and trying to pretend that the money isn’t being earned by the movie. It’s funny how nobody cares about that, because the distinction doesn’t matter; people are paying the ticket price to ‘Avatar’, the ticket price you and other people claimed was the reason the movie would fail. (Well, you cited it as one of twenty reasons the movie was *sure* to fail, but a lot of remotely intelligent people thought it too.)

    “Likewise, Avatar only looks good in respect to its current rank, but as people have noted, inflation only puts it at #26 of all time.”

    And, as people have noted, nobody gives a shit about inflation except for petty people on the Internet looking for reasons to knock any given current movie. Anybody who knows what they’re talking about knows that you can’t go back more than 25 years (let alone all the way back to ‘Gone With The Wind’) without jumping into a landscape so shifted by changes to home video, television, and general release patterns, that the numbers aren’t really all that comprable anyway. Granting that comparing box office returns is arbitrary, it’s less arbitrary than box office returns with inflation factored in but nothing else factored in to account for the differences in the time period.

  • Ponderer

    “Ponderer, I think there’s a certain age at which anyone will see a movie that they love several times, regardless of whether it’s eventually going to be available on DVD or not.”

    I don’t disagree, but video has still taken over most of that. To go back to my example of Star Wars – I saw it multiple times, but the movie played at my local theater for a solid YEAR. The Sound of Music, from what I understand, played some theaters for 2-3 years.

    “Cameron is really smart about that. Both films are visually dazzling and both films have terrible scripts. ”

    I would agree that his dialogue is pretty awful (though I don’t think he gets enough credit for capturing how jarheads talk), but his structure skills can school pretty much anyone.

  • Ronald McFirbank

    Clearly the anti-authority, individualist message of Avatar resonates with Scott Brown voters nationwide.

  • nemo

    The original Edge of Darkness is a terrific mid 1980s 5-hour British mini-series that veers off into some dark and crazy territory in its first hour (the late Bob Peck’s Craven searching his recently murdered daughter’s bedroom for something, anything that will give him a clue as he plays Willie Nelson’s jet black Time of the Preacher on the old-ass LP record player), goes gloriously crazy when Joe Don Baker’s bad-ass Texas CIA agent shows up (not a cell phone in sight, not even the giant big-as-a-shoe Michael-Douglas-in-Wall-Street variety), goes seriously off the rails in the final hour, and comes to a glorious crash landing.

    I had the privilege of renting the British mid-80s version from Vulcan Video in Austin last week, and I have to say, as wonderfully nuts as it is, as wonderfully nuts are the supporting performances, it was not a film begging for a remake, even by the original director, Martin Campbell.

    If you can find it for a rental, watch the mid-80s British version with Bob Peck, and bypass the new Mel Gibson version. Even though I can see why Gibson and Martin Campbell and Ray Winstone and wanted to remake this film. Darius Jedburgh is a great part, and I’ll probably see the remake just to see Winstone in that part.

    The Brits really knew how to make mini-series (mini-serieses?) back in the 80s and early 90s. The two George Smiley series. Edge of Darkness. Reilly: Ace of Spies (also directed by Martin Campbell). House of Cards with Ian Richardson. The list goes on and on and on.

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    This is my day to agree with Nemo, I guess. I own a Region 2 DVD of the original Edge of Darkness, it’s absolutely great, a buckass crazy great attack on Thatcherite England as a wholly owned subsidiary of Reaganite America (and I totally disagree with it politically, but so what). The best news about the remake was hearing Winstone was playing Jedburgh (incidentally, look up where that name comes from), and knowing they at least got that much right.

    House of Cards rocks, too. But I’d watch Ian Richardson in anything, other than BAPS.

    “No, I’m saying they’re paying for the format the movie’s presented in, rather than for the actual content.”

    You mean… like Technicolor? Which certainly helped justify GWTW’s inflated ticket prices ($2 in the big city engagements, when tickets were 25 cents; the equivalent would be $80 a seat for Avatar in 3-D).

  • Chicago48

    According to Forbes, GWTW is still the #1 grossing movie when adjusted for inflation. Avatar and Titanic are something like 20th.

  • nemo

    Joe Don Baker as Darius Jedburgh: “You ever been to Dallas, Craven? That’s where we kill our Presidents! The Jews have their Calvary, we have our Dealey Plaza.”

    If you see the original 1980s British version of Edge of Darkness, you’ll understand why a remake would appeal to the wild crazy man in Mel Gibson.

  • DeeZee

    Gordon: “nobody gives a shit about inflation”

    If that were the case, then why was Avatar out-fitted in 3-d in the first place? Obviously because

    inflation’s what’s currently keeping people from seeing movies which aren’t sequels or based off familiar franchises.

    Ronald: Unless GWTW had an optional b+w version, that was the entire movie.

  • Ronald McFirbank

    This is my day to agree with Nemo, I guess. I own a Region 2 DVD of the original Edge of Darkness, it’s absolutely great, a buckass crazy great attack on Thatcherite England as a wholly owned subsidiary of Reaganite America (and I totally disagree with it politically, but so what). The best news about the remake was hearing Winstone was playing Jedburgh (incidentally, look up where that name comes from), and knowing they at least got that much right.

    House of Cards rocks, too. But I’d watch Ian Richardson in anything, other than BAPS.

    “No, I’m saying they’re paying for the format the movie’s presented in, rather than for the actual content.”

    You mean… like Technicolor? Which certainly helped justify GWTW’s inflated ticket prices ($2 in the big city engagements, when tickets were 25 cents; the equivalent would be $80 a seat for Avatar in 3-D).

  • Gordon27

    “If that were the case, then why was Avatar out-fitted in 3-d in the first place? ”

    Which brings up an interesting point, which is that Fox shelled out a lot of money to make sure these theaters were ready, money you were quick enough to tack onto the budget, but now that it’s paid off, you’re trying to deny them the spoils of their gamble.

    “Obviously because inflation’s what’s currently keeping people from seeing movies which aren’t sequels or based off familiar franchises.”

    That’s circular logic, since it’s contingent on your theory that the 3-D doesn’t add anything to the movie and that people are only seeing it because it’s a fad, both of which you made up with absolutely no proof.

    “Unless GWTW had an optional b+w version, that was the entire movie. ”

    Yeah, Ronald, it only counts as falsely inflating your profits if you give the audience the ability to choose between two versions and they *choose* the more expensive one. It doesn’t count if you force them to buy the more expensive tickets because cheaper ones aren’t available.

    Due solely to DZ’s stupidity, I will mark that as “sarcastic”.

  • DeeZee

    Gordon: Well, technically, FOX shelled out money for some of the production and most of the advertising. In fact, it actually tried to force the chains to fund 3-d on their own only a few months earlier. http://www.cinematical.com/2009/04/03/regal-to-fox-no-3-d-glasses-then-no-ice-age-3-d-at-regal/ So the chains are technically the ones which deserve credit for bailing out a potential bomb by demanding FOX pay its share of the technology costs, and not the other way around.

    “since it’s contingent on your theory that the 3-D doesn’t add anything to the movie and that people are only seeing it because it’s a fad, both of which you made up with absolutely no proof.”

    No proof, eh? As a matter of fact, 3-d was considered DOA that very same year Avatar came out in theaters. http://www.slashfilm.com/2009/07/13/is-the-digital-3d-movie-fad-over/

    “Yeah, Ronald, it only counts as falsely inflating your profits if you give the audience the ability to choose between two versions and they *choose* the more expensive one.”

    You’re not technically giving them a choice, because if you only watch in in 2-d, you’re not getting the “total package”. Though, either way, it was basically the same movie with an “optional” higher price tag. Technicolor, OTOH, did not require you to pay a higher ticket price than you would have if you had chosen to see “The Women” instead.

  • Gordon27

    So, your response to his point about GWWW’s ticket prices is “nuh-uh”?

    “As a matter of fact, 3-d was considered DOA that very same year Avatar came out in theaters. ”

    Aren’t you the one who said that Cameron did it because it was a gimmick that would bring audiences in?

  • Gordon27

    “So the chains are technically the ones which deserve credit for bailing out a potential bomb by demanding FOX pay its share of the technology costs, and not the other way around.”

    Yes, the chains deserve credit for making a decision which cost them millions of dollars in profits that they would’ve gotten if they’d been getting all the 3-D money instead of having to foot it back to Fox who, as I pointed out, shelled out money you were perfectly willing to include in the budget when you were still trying to pretend the movie was a bomb.

  • Gordon27

    On top of which, your link is talking about glasses, whereas I’m talking about the actual upgrade of projectors to 3-d capabilities (and digital, naturally). Still, credit where it’s due, that’s probably the closest you’ve ever come to citing a link which is relevant to the discussion at hand.

  • DeeZee

    Gordon: Bullshit. The chains would’ve probably lost money on the format if FOX didn’t pick up some of the slack, since Avatar was a wild card with bad marketing to boot, and since they probably didn’t start seeing their cut of the profits until the production costs of the film were paid off. And yeah, 3-d was the same gimmick with Cameron as it was for every other studio. But he just managed to spin it into something “revolutionary” better than the other studios. As for the link, it actually proves my point, which is that FOX doesn’t deserve credit for Avatar’s success, since it didn’t pay shit for the format which bailed the film out, and outside of Ice Age 3, was betting on awful propositions like DB: E that year.

  • Gordon27

    “since Avatar was a wild card with bad marketing to boot”

    No, they made a bad bet, the same bad bet you made. They would’ve made more money if they’d taken a chunk of the profits to pay back the installation, instead they forced Fox to pay for it, and to the victor goes the spoiles.

    “But he just managed to spin it into something “revolutionary” better than the other studios.”

    Ah, right, because only James Cameron has the magic power of marketing on his side.

    “As for the link, it actually proves my point, which is that FOX doesn’t deserve credit for Avatar’s success, since it didn’t pay shit for the format which bailed the film out”

    And, to “prove” it, it shows that they weren’t going to pay for the glasses [which is a different thing] and that a chain stood up to them. It says nothing about the deal that was ultimately reached, let alone anything about ‘Avatar’.

    “was betting on awful propositions like DB: E that year. ”

    Ah, well, we were all waiting for you to bring up one of the five movies you consistently refer to, and there it is. Somehow, I think Fox is okay with how Avatar and Ice Age 3 did, and not thinking so much about Dragonball. If the stock market forgets (and it does, in light of how incredibly successful Avatar is), then the studio doesn’t have any reason to remember it.

  • CitizenKanedforChewingGum

    “which is that FOX doesn’t deserve credit for Avatar’s success”

    So who the fuck DOES deserve the credit? Ever since you half-assed, cowardly admitted you might’ve been wrong about Avatar being a box office failure, you’re still predictably insistent on referring to it with your trademark muddled terms like “potential bomb” or “gimmicky near-bust.”

    I don’t think I need to point out how goddamn delusional this behavior is. The movie is getting ready to cross the $2 billion mark worldwide.

    TWO.

    BILLION.

    If you want to argue that the movie doesn’t work on a artistic/cinematic level, that’s one thing — there are certainly a lot of shallow & flawed films among the highest grossers of all-time.

    But it somehow seems like you’re still desperately trying to downplay how well Avatar has done theatrically when you’ve already lost that argument a month ago.

    Also, I’ll gladly take a nickel for every time you name-drop an absolutely abominable, direct-to-video level movie (see DB: E, FF: TSW), usually with Japanese and/or gaming roots. Why you are so obsessed with these pieces of shit is really beyond (read: beneath) me. I guess you fancy them as a sort of new-wave of Troma entries with none of the personality?

  • Gordon27

    Within the same post:

    “Avatar was a wild card with bad marketing to boot”

    “But he just managed to spin it into something “revolutionary” better than the other studios.”

    Just imagine how well the movie would’ve done with *good* marketing to spin it into something “revolutionary”.

  • DeeZee

    Gordon: “They would’ve made more money if they’d taken a chunk of the profits to pay back the installation, instead they forced Fox to pay for it, and to the victor goes the spoiles.”

    Doesn’t that mean FOX actually made less profit, and not the chains?

    “Ah, right, because only James Cameron has the magic power of marketing on his side.”

    Probably not, but I won’t begrudge him the acknowledgement that he gave the technology a personal touch better than the suits who’ve failed to cash in on Blu-ray the way they probably wanted. To kill two birds with one stone with Kane’s question, if anything really deserve credit for Avatar’s success, I’d have to say it’s Cameron’s infomercial-esque approach to the whole thing, in that he intentionally made himself vulnerable to criticism while simultaneously marketing himself as a “regular Joe” putting his rep on the line for the sake of his vision.

    “Somehow, I think Fox is okay with how Avatar and Ice Age 3 did, and not thinking so much about Dragonball.”

    How pleased they are with Avatar depends on their cut of the profits. And Ice Age 3 was their only in-house blockbuster hit outside of the holidays, so that’s not really impressive, considering they’re probably still paying off their losses on The Day the Earth Stood Still.

    “It says nothing about the deal that was ultimately reached, let alone anything about ‘Avatar’.”

    http://articles.latimes.com/2009/jun/19/business/fi-ct-eyeglasses19

    Kane:

  • DeeZee

    Minus the Kane thing.

  • http://www.tescoloans.org/ juliechen

    wow, imagine how much they would have earned if piracy wasn’t as rampant as it is now!

  • daleanne

    wow! i never really imagined that avatar would make it this big!

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  • juliechen

    I was finally able to watch this movie! now i know why it sold this much! its great! I’m kind of disappointed one of the main actors though, their avatar seemed tobe more expressive than the actor itself!

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