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Cameron vs Cameron: Will Avatar Surpass Titanic?

Monday, January 11, 2010 , Posted by Daisy at 12:00 AM




Expectations keep changing for this movie.

Before Avatar came out, the biggest question was whether it would make enough money to cover its costs, which was estimated to be up to a record breaking $500m by the NYTimes.  Shortly after opening, the question turned to whether it could overtake Lord of the Rings - Return of the King as the second highest on the list of biggest grossing films of all time.  No one would even dare to mention the T word.  Now, after 24 days of release, the only question left is will it have what it takes to surpass Titanic.

Well I'm going to tell you that not only will Avatar surpass Titanic, it will smash it.  Yup.  Both domestically and worldwide. Mark my words.

First, just look at the numbers.  After just 24 days, Avatar made $430m domestically.  It took Titanic 74 days to reach that point.  Avatar is going at 3 times the rate of Titanic and only needs another $170m to give it the domestic title.  Though there is no detailed international figures on Titanic, both movies take in exactly 32% of its total gross domestically.  That should mean that the international and worldwide gross should also be going at 3 times the rate of Titanic's.  There is no question that Avatar will become the biggest of all time.  The only question is by how much.

Titanic had one thing that no other movie before or after it has had, and that is strong legs from repeat movie goers.  I believe that Avatar has that quality, especially given the fact that it has something that Titanic itself doesn't have.  And that is 3D and Imax.

Not only does inflation work to Avatar's advantage, but instead of paying regular price a lot of people are opting to pay a premium to experience the most anticipated movie in history in all its glory.  It isn't just Imax theatres that are helping boost up Avatar's numbers, but so are the conventional theatres playing the movie in 3D.

The 3D factor is what's going to give Avatar the needed legs.  3D is something very novel and the experience is something you cannot duplicate at home.   This will only help drive more people back to the theatres before the movie finishes its run. Titanic had a 283 day run to reach $1.843b worldwide.  Avatar is now at $1.335b at just 24 days. With the advantage of having 3D a theatre-only experience,  I predict this movie will gross closer to $2.5b worldwide by the time it's done.  Too optimistic?  Guess we'll have to wait for another 259 days to see if it makes another $1.15b.

The real question is where it's going to end up in the list of the biggest domestic grossing inflation adjusted movie since 1977.  To come out on top, it would have to make over $1.17b to surpass the first Star Wars.  That would mean, given a 32% domestic rate, that its worldwide total would be around $3.6b. Now I highly doubt that's ever going to happen. Besides, you have to consider that it took A New Hope three releases to reach that point.

But who knows.  Maybe expectations will change one more time.



Released
Film Name
Total Box Office
1
1977
Star Wars Ep. IV: A New Hope
$1,169,002,703
2
1982
ET: The Extra-Terrestrial
$964,755,189
3
1997
Titanic
$925,007,090
4
1980
Star Wars Ep. V: The Empire Strikes Back
$693,279,648
5
1983
Star Wars Ep. VI: Return of the Jedi
$667,572,706
6
1999
Star Wars Ep. I: The Phantom Menace
$609,211,218
7
1993
Jurassic Park
$607,908,342
8
1981
Raiders of the Lost Ark
$587,269,640
9
1994
Forrest Gump
$576,655,367
10
1994
The Lion King
$549,149,814
11
1977
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
$534,475,337
12
2008
The Dark Knight
$533,345,363
13
1978
Grease
$513,248,076
14
2004
Shrek 2
$504,647,671
15
2002
Spider-Man
$498,900,476
16
1996
Independence Day
$497,278,450
17
1984
Beverly Hills Cop
$474,621,112
18
1984
Ghostbusters
$471,947,166
19
1990
Home Alone
$470,553,161
20
2006
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
$464,031,682
21
1989
Batman
$448,026,199
22
2003
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
$445,925,474
23
1978
National Lampoon's Animal House
$434,482,055
24
2004
Spider-Man 2
$431,868,887
25
2009
Avatar
$430,846,514

 (domestic gross in today's dollars)





Click here for: Box Office Comparison Chart for Avatar vs Titanic vs Dark Knight

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