When Will Avatar Beat Titanic?

With James Cameron‘s Avatar now the #1 film four weekends in a row ($46 million projected earnings by Sunday night) and the second-highest worldwide grosser of all time at the worldwide box office, can it overtake Cameron’s Titanic tally of $1.8 billion, and thereby become the all-time #1 earner?

It can do this if it gathers another $600 million worldwide starting Monday morning. By Sunday night Avatar will have earned $1.2 billion and change in only four weekends of play, or three and a half 7-day weeks (Friday, 12.18 to Sunday, 1.10). At this rate another $600 million doesn’t seem too hard.

It’ll take a little longer, of course, due to diminished post-holiday revenues and the fact that the first and second wavers have already seen it. But there’s a repeat-viewing factor at work plus an understanding that Avatar is not something to wait for on DVD.

I’m figuring Avatar will take Titanic by…what, February 1st? Mid-Feburary?

Avatar‘s domestic cume through last Wednesday was $374.4 million with a foreign tally of $760.9 million. It’s expected to pull in $100 million globally this weekend ($46 million here plus another $55-something over there) for a Sunday-night worldwide total of $1.235 billion, give or take. So to pass $1.8 billion it needs another $600 million.

  • The Winchester

    I think domestically, it still may not overtake Titanic. Which is odd, but the movie needs another $180 million or so to do it? I guess Oscar noms might make this possible, but it looks like the steam is starting to expunge.

    That’s not stopping me from seeing it a second time in IMAX though.

  • York “Budd” Durden

    It’ll have a steep dropoff when people realize it’s just Ferngully meets Pocahontas.

    (Durden enters) WTF? DeeZee, get your ass of my basement computer nook or I’m telling mom.

  • great scott

    “When will Avatar beat Titanic?”

    Whenever DeeZee says it will.

    Titanic will have sold more tickets and been seen by more people so it’s really meaningless anyway.

  • http://www.thecornercinema.com loyal

    The brightest box office minds put Avatar topping Titanic DOMESTICALLY around March 1st. It’ll cross 500m sometime before the Martin Luther Day Holiday 4 Day Weekend Ends.

    WORLDWIDE is a trickier date to nail down. It’s breaking records in China right now. But be sure, it is passing Titanic’s 1.8b and should top out at around 2b when all is said and done.

  • guy

    “I’m figuring Avatar will take Titanic by…what, February 1st? Mid-Feburary?”

    Yes, Jeff.

    As long as it takes that traditional mid-January bounce where films in their fifth weeks suddenly start making twice as much as they did in their fourth week, then yes, it’s totally on pace to crack Titanic by February 1st.

  • astrophore

    Not to get all DZ and thread-hijacky, but did I miss the kerfuffle on this site when Ebert and Zacharek called Wells a “douchebag” in Slate’s Movie Club this week?

    http://www.slate.com/id/2240458/entry/2240927/

    I’d a-thought that would’ve gotten some play here.

    And I like both Rio Bravo and High Noon. I also like both Ginger and Mary Ann. So sue me.

  • hardlanding

    “That’s not stopping me from seeing it a second time in IMAX though. ”

    Not to get too far off topic, but I’ve now seen Avatar in both Real3D and true, huge IMAX 3D (SF Metreon), and the IMAX had a problem that close-to-viewer details were fuzzy (e.g. subtitles, the floating bubble, etc.). Yet it wasn’t like the whole picture was out of focus. The Real3D was sharp and clear everywhere. Has anyone else seen this, or was the SF Metreon IMAX just screwed up somehow? (Both theatres were AMC)

  • Todd

    Hardlanding, I saw it in Cathedral City which is one of the few real IMAX on film presentations and it was clear even subtitles so it must have been the projectionist fault.

  • Matt S

    Who cares? Tickets range from 10 to 15 dollars or more for Avatar. It’s an unfair advantage. It’s like the steroid users breaking home run records in baseball.

  • Eloi Manning

    Hardlanding: I haven’t seen the full film in big IMAX, but saw the Avatar Day preview thing, and it definitely looked a lot fuzzier and less in focus than the Real-D which was excellent and crisp and clear.

    A couple of weeks since I saw it, I definitely find myself less taken with it than I was when I left the theater. It might well beat Titanic in pure money terms, but there’s no way it’ll live as long in the collective consciousness. It was a very good blockbuster but it’s faded somewhat in my mind as time has gone on, and I wouldn’t put it up there with the likes of Jurassic Park, E.T., Star Wars, T2, Back to the Future, etc. as a classic of the popcorn blockbuster genre.

  • gradystiles

    MattS:

    “Who cares? Tickets range from 10 to 15 dollars or more for Avatar. It’s an unfair advantage.”

    Seriously? “An unfair advantage?” No one’s FORCING people to pay more to see Avatar in 3D. If people didn’t perceive it to be worth the extra money, they wouldn’t pay it.

  • StevenKar

    Guys, I need your thoughts on the 3D effect in this movie…

    I watched it for the first time today and didn’t feel the 3D was utilised for much of the movie. In fact, the shots were the 3D was apparent limited. For example; when Jake wakes up from cryo-sleep, when the characters are looking at their holographic monitors, and a few more.

    I watched PIXAR’S UP last summer, and although Pixar did the smart thing by making the 3D subtlE, not gimmicky or in-your-face, I was still aware of the 3D in UP and quite enjoyed the effect. It was gentle but always there. But I just didn’t notice it in AVATAR, by that I mean, I could tell that I was looking at a 2D presentation for most of the movie.

    My eyesight is fine, I don’t wear prescription glasses, and the projection in my theatre was fine as far as I could tell. And it was RealD.

    Also, for such a colourful movie (from what I saw in the ads and stills), it was quite dim in the theatre. Was it because of the glasses, or because the light in the projector wasn’t intense enough?

  • gogocrank10

    Meanwhile, Hollywood execs are scrambling for the next “Avatar,” totally unaware that “Avatar” is virtually identical to several blockbusters they’ve already made, only more expensive. So will “Avatar” initiate the Wal-Martization of Hollywood? Will all the studios begin putting all their money into mega projects at the expense of smaller films?

    This isn’t all bad, though. I totally respect the film for bringing back the notion of a true collective spectacle, something I haven’t experiences since, I dunno, “Jurassic Park?” There have been plenty of “must see” movies, but not a lot of “must see in theaters” movies. For that matter, I wonder if lots of this business is being driven by people fully aware that “Avatar” will lose most of its charm on boring 2-D DVD or Blu-ray? There’s not a lot of depth to it to begin with, so subtract a dimension and I assume it will be virtually unwatchable at home.

    BTW, I do perceive the 3-D as an “unfair” (in the sense that any of these BO races can be fair or unfair) earning advantage. It was made, marketed and reviewed with 3-D in mind, and God knows it’s not the story driving word of mouth. Didn’t EW estimate it as a good $200 million or so attributed to the upcharge?

  • Gordon27

    “BTW, I do perceive the 3-D as an “unfair” (in the sense that any of these BO races can be fair or unfair) earning advantage.”

    Isn’t “trying to convince people that your movie is worth spending extra money on” generally a disadvantage?

  • George Prager

    I forgot that it’s time for the Slate Movie Club, where TAB guzzling Paulettes sit around and rap about their feelings and nothing interesting is ever said, ever.

  • Ponderer

    I don’t know about the rest of them, but I would hardly call Roger Ebert a Paulette, and whatever he writes is usually interesting whether or not you agree with him.

  • Deathtongue_Groupie

    For those (guy) who only read the headline, Jeff is talking about worldwide.

    As far as the domestic record, until next weekend it’s still a toss up whether it can beat TITANIC. My own gut feeling is a normal series of drops are coming starting in the 5th weekend. This Monday is also key, as it will be the start of the 2nd week without vacationing students. Another 50% drop is the norm. Less than that, AVATAR might still have a shot at TITANIC’s $600M domestic.

    That the first 3 weekends were a “perfect storm” thing combining the snow, the holiday weekends and Christmas vacation. There might be an uptick when the nominations are announced, but I doubt any surge way down the line if it wins major awards.

  • George Prager

    Ebert is a ringer.

  • bfm

    “Titanic will have sold more tickets and been seen by more people so it’s really meaningless anyway.”

    Not necessarily more people. Didn’t Titanic have a massive number of multiple attendances? I remember reading reports of people seeing it 8 or 9 times.

    StevenKar, I agree that the 3D effect was variable and sometimes subtle. There were some scenes when it was really obvious (such as when they were getting out of their pods and flying round in the spaceship at the beginning). At other times you’re right that there was negligible difference with and without the glasses. The glasses did also dim the colors somewhat, although I thought they were richer rather than just darker.

  • Deathtongue_Groupie

    astrophore – actually, that is an Anti-DeeZee posting of the link because it was (gasp!) directly related to this site.

    Yeah, Jeff isn’t going to get into a tit for tat with Ebert. That’s a lose-lose situation.

  • guy

    For those (Deathtongue_Groupie) who are fucking retarded, I understand he is talking about worldwide. There is absolutely zero chance that it will beat Titanic by February 1st, or February anything. Please explain the weekly totals that will get it there…

  • DeeZee

    Eloi: Yeah, I can’t think of anything more disposable than Avatar. Not that I liked those other films you mentioned much, but at least they weren’t just gimmicks meant to get you to buy 3D and keep Rupert’s company afloat when Percy bombs.

    Gordon: “Isn’t “trying to convince people that your movie is worth spending extra money on” generally a disadvantage?”

    Well, if the only reason they’re seeing it is because it’s in 3-D, and it would have bombed otherwise, then yes…

  • Deathtongue_Groupie

    I think it would be much more interesting for “fucking retarded” guy to explain how it can’t make it there by February 28th. 7 weeks for another $600M, $100M+ of which will be coming from domestic.

    Really looking forward to the lesson in how past 5th and 6th weekend drops have gone in Russia, Germany and France…

  • Noah Cross

    “Titanic will have sold more tickets and been seen by more people so it’s really meaningless anyway.”

    Yeah, but Titanic isn’t the real champ, that would be Gone Wtih the Wind when adjusted for inflation. Or Birth of a Nation. Come on, if Avatar gets the record for most bucks pulled in, it will be an amazing feat, whatever one thinks of the aesthetics and politics of the film.

  • http://www.sammyray.com Ray

    Ya know, seriously … when are we going to revert to an adjusted-for-inflation scale? It’s not exciting to see AVATAR beat TITANIC when a ticket to AVATAR costs $13.00.

    GONE WITH THE WIND still sold more tickets than all of these pretenders … why doesn’t THAT matter more??

  • Jonathan Spuij

    I was just thinking:

    10% Best Picture Winner revenue would be quite a lot for a film such as this…

  • DeeZee

    BTW, much as I hate Harvey, I’m sort of disappointed Youth In Revolt did so horribly, as the trailers didn’t look so bad. How the fuck did Leap Year lose to Chipmunks, though? And it must be that Twilight fad which kept Daybreakers from being on the lower 10, ‘cus I was expecting it to do the worst of all the new releases this weekend. That might bode well for Repo Men, if that’s the case.

  • Gordon27

    oh, just shut the fuck up already.

  • Matt S

    “Seriously? “An unfair advantage?” No one’s FORCING people to pay more to see Avatar in 3D. If people didn’t perceive it to be worth the extra money, they wouldn’t pay it”

    Isn’t Avatar on like 2900 or so 3D screens compared to 1200 2D? At the the theater I work at, we have two screens showing 3D Avatar, but Fox didn’t give us a 2D print. For every other 3D movie, we’ve had a 2D version to offer people, even something stupid like Final Destination. So in our area, if you want to see Avatar, you’re paying the 3D price.

  • Gordon27

    Are you saying Fox didn’t offer a 2-D print, or that your theater didn’t order one? As far as I understood, it was up to the exhibitor.

  • Markj74

    DeeZee is the guy that thinks Zack Snyder is more talented than James Cameron.

  • wildphantom

    I don’t mind that they use dollars instead of number of tickets sold to rank movies in the slightest.

    Sure we all know Titanic and Gone With the Wind will have sold more tickets than Avatar by the time its finished; but people didn’t spend more money on them and that’s all that’s being said here.

    If Avatar smashes past $600 million then it has made more money than Titanic – simple as that.

    Adjusted for inflation is such a cop-out.

    Anyone really think Titanic would have made $1.8 billion in 1997/8 if the internet/DVD/blu-ray had been around to the extent they are today?

    Gone With the Wind was in theaters for years! It was the only way people could see it! There weren’t half a dozen new films coming out every single weekend either.

    It’s a different world now at the box office; so in my opinion there’s nothing wrong in judging it in terms of dollars made.

  • gogocrank10

    New EW reports 75% of ticket sales have been 3-D.

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    Stevenkar– I agree with you. As restrained as Up was, you had the sense of floating throughout. Avatar seemed too restrained and consequently it was often like watching a movie with sunglasses on. I kind of feel like I need to see it in 2D now to really see it.

    In terms of what the most-seen-in-theaters-ever movie was, Entertainment Weekly once calculated that Gone With the Wind and Star Wars were too close to choose between. GWTW was bigger in its time, but US population by the 70s was double what it was in the 30s/40s, so just a lot more people to go. Birth of a Nation’s success is, relatively, a myth; it was the biggest hit of the time, but the country was much poorer then and got much more prosperous in the 20s, so a number of 20s hits (eg, Ben-Hur, King of Kings) probably sold more tickets in reality.

  • markj

    DeeZee is the guy that thinks Zack Snyder is more talented than James Cameron.

  • jse33

    Per Box Office Mojo, adjusted for inflation, Titanic’s US earnings would be about $943 MILLION, which puts it 6th on the all-time list.

  • Mandrake Rasmussen

    I agree with wildphantom. Movies 20 years ago (or even 12) did not have to compete with as many forms of entertainment as today (forget 80 years ago- pre television!).

    Now we have smartphones, wifi Internet access everywhere, video on demand, high def flat screen tv’s, blu ray, free porn on the Internet, xbox games, wii, ps3, psp, the freaking kindle- it goes on and on…

    The fact that a movie like avatar has gotten people to look up from their text messaging, nintendo ds playing lives, and take notice, is pretty incredible. The fact that it’s box office take is playing out unlike any other movie in recent history is also incredible. Titanic had the same effect, but the world has changed drastically since 1997, so Avatars success shouldn’t be diminished even when comparing against that game changer.

    What would really be great is if Cameron was given the money to complete all of the footage he excised for the theatrical cut of avatar and give us his full original cut in a theatrical re-release and blu ray.

  • Ronald McFirbank

    Stevenkar– I agree with you. As restrained as Up was, you had the sense of floating throughout. Avatar seemed too restrained and consequently it was often like watching a movie with sunglasses on. I kind of feel like I need to see it in 2D now to really see it.

    In terms of what the most-seen-in-theaters-ever movie was, Entertainment Weekly once calculated that Gone With the Wind and Star Wars were too close to choose between. GWTW was bigger in its time, but US population by the 70s was double what it was in the 30s/40s, so just a lot more people to go. Birth of a Nation’s success is, relatively, a myth; it was the biggest hit of the time, but the country was much poorer then and got much more prosperous in the 20s, so a number of 20s hits (eg, Ben-Hur, King of Kings) probably sold more tickets in reality.

  • DavidF

    I’ve said variation on this before but one reason this thing has “legs” is because of the 3D. People who saw it in 2D want to see it in 3D and people who saw in 3D want to see it in IMAX.

    Even in big cities there are relatively few IMAX screenings and that’s why they’re still selling out weekend shows days in advance.

    The fact that 3D is more expensive than 2D and IMAX is more than that also isn’t hurting the grosses at all.

    Titanic brought people back because girls liked Leo. Avatar is bringing people back because they know they should se it in the best possible format because clearly even BluRay simply won’t be the same.

  • Mandrake Rasmussen

    I can’t agree about titanic. If Leo was the draw, then why did “the beach” not become a box office juggernaut?

    The reason Titanic was so successful is actually the same reason that Avatar is successful: it tells a simple, universally relatable story on a grand scale that somehow appeals to ages 8 to 80. It sounds simple, but the fact is that only Cameron has proven himself capable of doing that.

  • DeeZee

    mark: Well, at least Snyder does something different with his remakes…

    Mandrake: Leo was a draw for teen-romance oriented movies. The Beach bombed, because it was trying to up his appeal via adult audiences. And Titanic made money because of Leo and because it was a disaster porn, plain and simple. Avatar’s made money, because of an even shallower gimmick, which is that concept and story don’t matter, as long as you can see it in 3-D. And once again, if Cameron’s always been able to appeal to that broad demo, then Abyss would be a box-office hit, and Dark Angel would have a long shelf-life.

  • Howlingman

    DeeZee: “There’s no way Avatar will make more that $450 million worldwide.”

    As of January 11:

    $429M Domestic

    $906.2M International

    $1.3352 billion Worldwide

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