Movies - Box Office postsWednesday January 27, 2010
The New King of the World
To put this in perspective: When James Cameron's "Titanic" became the worldwide box office champion with $1.843 billion in 1997-98, it more than doubled the previous record set by "Jurassic Park" in the summer of 1993: $914 million.
In the 12 years since, and despite rising ticket prices , no film has gotten within 60 percent of "Titanic"'s total. "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" reached $1.1 billion in 2003-04, the second (and awful) "Pirates" movie reached $1.06 billion in the summer of 2006, while "The Dark Knight" grossed almost exactly $1 billion two summers ago. Those are the only other movies that even reached the $1 billion mark. Basically halfway there.
Until now. This week, "Avatar," Cameron's first movie since "Titanic," broke "Titanic"'s worldwide box office mark and currently stands at $1.861. And climbing. Fast.
Cameron's raising the bar when no one could even get close to the bar before. That's almost mean.
“Avatar” Passes “Dark Knight”
Early estimates have “Avatar” winning the Friday box office with $9.1 million (over “Legion”'s $6.7 million), which means several things:
- It now has $526 million domestic. So it should pass “The Dark Knight”'s box-office total of $533 million today and thus become the second-highest-grossing domestic film (unadjusted) of all time.
- When that happens, it'll become the highest-grossing film of the decade. Which means James Cameron has had the highest-grossing film of the decade two decades in a row. Not even Lucas (1970s) or Spielberg (1980s) can say the same.
- On a lesser scale, and assuming no surge from “Legion,” it will be no. 1 for six weekends in a row. No other film of the 2000s had better than four weekends in a row. It's the longest reign atop the weekend box office since, of course, “Titanic,” in 1997.
Build it well and they will come.
“I want you to open at $75 million and then drop only one or two percent the following weekend, and never drop more than 30 percent any weekend. This is going to be a movie with legs, OK?” “OK, Skip.”
The Sky People Are Speaking
The weekend actuals are in and we have a new no. 1 movie of the year! Hauling in $15.1 million, it's..."Daybreakers," the new no. 1 movie of all 2010 releases. Congratulations! Guess you can't keep a bad vampire down.
Oh, and "Avatar" was the no. 1 movie in the country again for the fourth weekend in a row and has now surpassed "Transformers 2" as the highest-grossing domestic release of 2009, while its worldwide box office is at $1.34 billion, no. 2 all-time by a mile. So, yeah, good job there, too, Jimmy C.
I keep wondering when it's going to drop big time but it's got staying power like no movie since... "Titanic." Example: It opened in the mid-$70 million range, which is less than half of "Dark Knight"'s opening weekend, and yet, four weeks later, the domestic totals of the two films are comparable: After 24 days, "Dark Knight" had $441 million, "Avatar" has $430 million. Plus "DK" was coming off a fourth-weekend total of $26 million. And remember: "The Dark Knight" actually had staying power. That's what's amazing about all of this. Cameron's movie has a real shot of beating both "Titanic" records: the $600 million it made domestically and the $1.8 billion it made worldwide. His only competition is himself.
No. 2 With a Bullet (or an Arrow)
Less than a month after it opened, James Cameron's "Avatar" is already second on the unadjusted worldwide box-office list...to James Cameron's "Titanic." Of course it's got a long way to go to be no. 1: another $700 million or so—or what only 35 films have managed to make worldwide in their entire run.
What's remarkable isn't just the fact that Cameron now has the top two films all-time; it's that almost every other top film is a sequel, or part of a trilogy, or based on an extremely popular series of books. In the top 20, you can count the originals on one hand: Cameron's "Titanic" at no. 1, Cameron's "Avatar" at no. 2, and Pixar's "Finding Nemo" at no. 19. That's it. (I was going to add "Jurassic Park" but then remembered the Crichton novel on which it's based.)
Here, from boxofficemojo, is the current top 20 worldwide list. Unadjusted:
|Rank||Title||Studio||Worldwide||Dom. / %||Overseas / %||Year^|
|3||The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King||NL||$1,119.1||$377.0||33.7%||$742.1||66.3%||2003|
|4||Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest||BV||$1,066.2||$423.3||39.7%||$642.9||60.3%||2006|
|5||The Dark Knight||WB||$1,001.9||$533.3||53.2%||$468.6||46.8%||2008|
|6||Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone||WB||$974.7||$317.6||32.6%||$657.2||67.4%||2001|
|7||Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End||BV||$961.0||$309.4||32.2%||$651.6||67.8%||2007|
|8||Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix||WB||$938.2||$292.0||31.1%||$646.2||68.9%||2007|
|9||Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince||WB||$929.4||$302.0||32.5%||$627.4||67.5%||2009|
|10||The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers||NL||$925.3||$341.8||36.9%||$583.5||63.1%||2002^|
|11||Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace||Fox||$924.3||$431.1||46.6%||$493.2||53.4%||1999|
|14||Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire||WB||$895.9||$290.0||32.4%||$605.9||67.6%||2005|
|16||Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs||Fox||$884.4||$196.6||22.2%||$687.9||77.8%||2009|
|17||Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets||WB||$878.6||$262.0||29.8%||$616.7||70.2%||2002|
|18||The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring||NL||$870.8||$314.8||36.1%||$556.0||63.9%||2001^|
|20||Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith||Fox||$848.8||$380.3||44.8%||$468.5||55.2%||2005|
Will "Avatar" make it to $1.5 billion? More? Variety's Clifford Coonan reports that the Chinese hen hsi hwan the film. In the U.S., meanwhile, with everyone back to school or work after the holidays, the film's weekday totals are dropping off at a 50% rate—but that's still a slower rate than other films in the top 10. We'll see how it does this weekend. There's still buzz about the film. There's backlash, too, but mostly I hear (or read on Facebook) that even if you don't like the chatter, and even if you think the storyline is too "Dances with Wolves," you need to check it out in the theater, because it's AMAZING in the theater. That's nice to hear. Cameron's getting us all back together again. Except for these folks, of course.
My take. Again.
King of the World!
Last Monday I wondered if James Cameron's “Avatar,” already at $615 million worldwide, would eventually surpass “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King,” at $1.1 billion worldwide, to become the second-highest-grossing film (unadjusted) of all time—after Cameron's “Titanic,” which is no. 1 by a mile with $1.8 billion.
That question hasn't been answered but it has. Because after today “Avatar”'s worldwide b.o. is estimated at $1.01 billion: fourth all-time and spitting distance to “Lord of the Rings.” So by Wednesday or Thursday, James Cameron will officially have the two highest-grossing movies of all time.
Meanwhile in the U.S. “Avatar” is already at $350 million and will shortly blow past “Transformers 2” ($402 million) to become the no. 1 movie of the year. The only question is if it can surpass “The Dark Knight” ($532 million) to become the no. 1 movie of the decade. If it does, Cameron will have had the no. 1 movie of the decade two decades in a row. No director has ever done that. Not even Spielberg, though he came close (“Jaws,” “E.T.,” “Jurassic”).
Hollywood tends to place its bets on opening weekends but Cameron's showing everyone how short-sighted this is. “Avatar” made $77 million opening weekend. That's 28th all-time and fifth best for the year—behind “New Moon,” “Transformers,” “Wolverine” and “Harry Potter.” But such films tend to drop like rocks (40-60 percent) that second weekend. “Avatar”? It dropped two percent, to $75 million, giving it the best second weekend of all time. Unadjusted.
The best third weekend? “Spider-Man” at $45 million. Whoops. Scratch that. Now it's “Avatar” at $68 million.
And from here on in Cameron's just competing with himself. The record-holder for best fourth weekend is “Titanic” at $28 million. Fifth weekend? “Titanic.” Sixth? Same. All the way through the 12th weekend. It's all “Titanic.”
Which means weekends 2 through 12 are now all Cameron.
Cameron, by himself, is rewriting the lessons of Hollywood, and the biggest one is this: Opening weekend is for pikers.